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A small, portable sound system?

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mousethief 17 Nov 00 - 04:09 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 Nov 00 - 04:19 PM
mousethief 17 Nov 00 - 04:26 PM
Allan C. 17 Nov 00 - 04:32 PM
mousethief 17 Nov 00 - 04:39 PM
Rick Fielding 17 Nov 00 - 04:46 PM
Alice 17 Nov 00 - 04:47 PM
mousethief 17 Nov 00 - 05:06 PM
mkebenn 17 Nov 00 - 05:59 PM
mousethief 17 Nov 00 - 06:04 PM
mousethief 17 Nov 00 - 06:07 PM
bigchuck 17 Nov 00 - 07:16 PM
Naemanson 17 Nov 00 - 08:38 PM
WyoWoman 17 Nov 00 - 10:36 PM
Helen 17 Nov 00 - 10:48 PM
Rick Fielding 17 Nov 00 - 10:53 PM
georgeward 18 Nov 00 - 03:43 AM
Lanfranc 18 Nov 00 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,John in Brisbane 18 Nov 00 - 09:39 AM
Lonesome Gillette 18 Nov 00 - 09:44 AM
Mooh 18 Nov 00 - 11:23 AM
Big Mick 18 Nov 00 - 12:44 PM
Lonesome EJ 18 Nov 00 - 04:53 PM
Helen 18 Nov 00 - 07:17 PM
Mooh 18 Nov 00 - 08:28 PM
Rick Fielding 18 Nov 00 - 10:09 PM
georgeward 19 Nov 00 - 01:46 AM
Helen 21 Nov 00 - 11:53 PM
mousethief 22 Nov 00 - 12:06 AM
georgeward 22 Nov 00 - 02:51 AM
Whistle Stop 22 Nov 00 - 08:56 AM
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Subject: A small, portable sound system?
From: mousethief
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 04:09 PM

In my "I broke my Leg!" thread (clicky), Naemanson said:

The next purchase is a small sound system so you don't strain those vocal chords. It's a little more expensive than the flat pick suggested above but oh so worth it. I have done a few gigs as a street musician and it takes a few days for the voice to come back.

I'm interested in the possibility (having thought of it many times as I strained to beat out the espresso machine) -- so here's my question: what all do I need to get? Is one of those small amps and a microphone enough, or do I need a mixing board? How good a mic do I need? How much is this going to set me back?

Please feel free to join in, anybody with experience in this area (or puns to share)!

Thanks,
Alex
O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 04:19 PM

ACTUALLY (putting on Radioshack pocket-protector and taped eyeglasses) I have a rather interesting portable PA system in my store that has several neat features: You can run it off of AC,DC,or batteries. It has wireless capability,so you could use a wireless lapel mic or wireless pickup. It's on sale for $99. It has simple treble/bass adjustments which should be sufficient,but I believe it only has one mic input.


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: mousethief
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 04:26 PM

Watts?


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Allan C.
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 04:32 PM

No, Mousethief, he lives near Denver;-)


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: mousethief
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 04:39 PM

Allan? Watts? Wait, this isn't a religion thread.


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 04:46 PM

Allan. You win my "My kind of humour" award. But I'm glad it was YOU who said it rather than me.

With all respect to Leej, the best kind of REALLY small sound systems available (as in carry with one hand) are the "Acoustic Amps" that all music stores sell these days. They've got a low impedance input for mikes and a high one for your guitar.

Rick


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Alice
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 04:47 PM

That sounds interesting, LEJ. What do you have in wireless lapel mics? I'll add a (hope this works) link here to some amps, including portable ones. click here


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: mousethief
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 05:06 PM

Rick (from the other thread), I think if the waitress had asked me home my wife (who was there) might have complained just a little.

Do you have brand names for those amps, or do I just walk in and say, "let me see your acoustic amps with the high- and low-impedance inputs!"

Then, what kind of mic do I need? Do I have to pay $100 for a microphone, or does a $20 mic do just as good a job?

I have one of those old-fashioned guitars without a pickup built in. Is there a good pickup to get? One that actually sounds like a miked guitar and not like an electric?

Thanks everybody for the input!

Alex
O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: mkebenn
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 05:59 PM

Mouse, I think that is the name...MB


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: mousethief
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 06:04 PM

Oh. Hehehe. I knew that.


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: mousethief
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 06:07 PM

Okay, microphone advice?!

Alex
O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: bigchuck
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 07:16 PM

Crate makes pretty good acoustic amps for reasonable prices in a variety of strengths, from 30 Watts up to 250 or so. The best bang for the buck, however is probably the 30 watt acoustic amp made by Dean. Basic, reasonable sound and volume, and we sell it for $209.00. Two channels, one offering an XLR input.
Sandy


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Naemanson
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 08:38 PM

When I wrote that comment I started with my tongue firmly in cheek. However, before I finished the first sentence I realized I was serious and that I hoped someone, possibly myself, would start this thread.

I have seen a suitcase system (Fender Passport Portable Sound Systems) listed in the latest Elderly Instruments catalog and actually saw one in use in Portland. Unfortunately the musician was on a break and I couldn't stay to hear it. Does anyone know if they are any good?

They are supposedly complete systems. Elderly Instruments has a 150 watt (not Denver) system for $490.00 and a 250 watt system for $665.00. As I said, a little more expensive than a flat pick. You can look at the systems at http://www.elderly.com/cgi-bin/elderly/search.pl#130N.

I like the idea of light weight. Roll & Go's sound system fills the back of a car and it takes two people to carry the sound board alone. Of course we use 8 mikes plus monitors.


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 10:36 PM

I'm thinkin' a megaphone ... Get that Rudy Valey (sp?) thing goin' ...

ww


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Helen
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 10:48 PM

You guys, are you talking in riddles here - or am I like the secretary called Flores in Being John Malkovich (which we watched yesterday on video) who thinks everyone else has a speech impediment because she can't understand their speech?

LEJ, is it the "Mouse" amp you are referring to, because I'd be interested to know how well it works, sound-wise as well as for practicality. Is this the one with only one input?

Indulge an middle-ageing woman in another country and speak slowly, clearly and plainly - pleeeaaase! (grin)

Helen


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 17 Nov 00 - 10:53 PM

Pretty much all the companies make acoustic amps now (it's the hip thing). Fender, Crate, Traynor, Peavey etc.

You can get a decent mike (low impedance) for about 60 bucks. Try not to scrimp on the mike. It's possibly the most important component. Oops, forgot about the stand. Probably 20 bucks. (Leej, Radio Shack carries Mikes and stands don't they?

Sandy, are you near Alex?

It always helps to have "connections" in the biz.

A simple contact pick-up (Oyster pick-ups are good) are around 25 bucks and will do the job.

All in all Alex, it'll cost about a tenth of what you'd spend sending your kid out to play tennis!

P.S. If a waitress asked me home today....I'd pass out!

Rick


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: georgeward
Date: 18 Nov 00 - 03:43 AM

For a long while, the class street musician's amp was the Lectrosonics Mouse, and after that the Maxi-Mouse. Amazing little boxes. Small, easy for anyone to carry, powerful and (to my ears) far better than any of the new crop for sound quality. And Helen, they (the Maxi, anyway) have two channels, with different circuitry for instrument and for voice.

They were also a favorite of harpists looking for discreet amplification.

Alas, Lectrosonics - whose main business was never music hardware - has stopped making them. I'd grab a used Maxi in a minute, if I found one.

There are, indeed, a host of new contenders. A buddy of mine swears by the Fender Amp Can for just amplifying his guitar alone. Sounds good in a parking lot. Small, friendly and inexpensive. Not a whole system, though. And there's the Pignose family. They've been around a long while. But none of those are for voice AND instrument.

I used the larger of the Fender Passport systems last year and was pleasantly surprised (outdoors, on a pontoon barge in a boat parade and driven by a little Honda generator, no less). They must plug in, though. No batteries. And the unit is not light to lug, though it is compact. Does come with mics and stands, as I recall.

My new acquisition is the larger of the battery-powered Crate amps (not the "Taxi", the "Limo" - close as I'll ever get). So far, I've found it really useful. Easily portable, very flexible, will do vocal and inst. on two separate channels, and will run on its battery longer than I will. Overall, it sounds good (should, at the price). And LOUD, if you ask it to be. I've done a bar gig with it. MY only complaint is that the circuitry is a bit noisy. With every pot turned down, it still generates some hiss. But in the real world no one's going to hear it (unless you're a harpist playing a recital, in which case move heaven and earth to find a Maxi-Mouse). The Limo ain't cheap (I paid ca. $450.00). I haven't tried the smaller Crate.

Rick is right. There's a lot of stuff out there. He's also right that you're going to be far happier if you start with a quality mic. The old standard Shure SM-58 is still about the safest, toughest and best-sounding-for-the-bucks unit. But there are some lower-cost alternatives, e.g. Samson, that some folks like a lot. George ::-.--O


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Lanfranc
Date: 18 Nov 00 - 05:48 AM

I have got by for a number of years with a basic rig that comprises two Turner mikes (which are clean, robust and cost me about GBP125 (USD175) fifteen years ago, with stands, through a battery/mains Tandy (Radio Shack) four-channel mixer (GBP25/USD40 at the same time) into either a Carlsbro Sherwood Junior 65watt accoustic combo (GBP300/USD450) or, if no mains power available, a Pignose 15w battery amp (GBP60/USD85).

The Pignose combination fits into a carry-on bag (except for the mike stands), and the whole lot goes in the boot (trunk) of a smallish car with a couple of guitars.

The Carlsboro rig suits even a large pub or hall, and the pignose does for busking or barbecues.

Technology may have moved on, but I haven't (in this respect, at least). I don't get any adverse comments about the sound, nor a hernia carting it about. If I play a large venue, I use the house system.


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: GUEST,John in Brisbane
Date: 18 Nov 00 - 09:39 AM

My tuppence worth. I tend to buy 'systems' that are expandable (or indeed contractable) and therefore would recommend a modular approach. Plus with the lamentable state of the Aussie Dollar I'm always on the lookout for good pre-loved components.

Microphone - most of this has already been said. Don't skimp here! Make sure that it's uni-directional (NOT omni directional). The Shure's are fine and you can pick them up easily second hand, along with AKG's (less often). Stick with the old reliable 'dynamic' type that doesn't require batteries. Apart from all the hype you'll read mic technology has not changed much in the last few decades.

Speakers - the best you can afford for the size and weight you prefer. If you're a folk vocalist I would very strongly argue that your speaker has a high frequency 'horn' tweeter so that your audience gets better cut through of your lyrics. Again don't be frightened to tour the second hand shops. Look for a solid timber case, rather than pretty plastic ones. If you can find speakers with a central mounting hole to fit a telescopic stand that's a bonus. If at all possible try to select a speaker with some kind of resettable fuse system if you inadvertently supply them with more power than you intended to, or if there's some form of mains power surge.

Amplifier - In my opinion the least important component but one where you can be seriously ripped off. The 'music' brands tend to be expensive and for that reason I recommend the TOA brand that the pros use for permanent PA installations in shopping malls and the like. They are very reliable, can be run from AC or 12 Volts and have enough mixing facilities for a trio or larger and are very quiet compared to Peaveys and others. They range in power and price and are not uncommon second hand. (Don't be put off by the fact that they are primarily designed to run lots of small speakers - they run conventional speakers perfectly.)

Regards, John


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Lonesome Gillette
Date: 18 Nov 00 - 09:44 AM

I'm a street musician and I've used the Maxi Mouse amps for years and like them. They tend to lack bass but all the small amps I've tried do. I have two of them and they each have two inputs so I have four seperate inputs, sounds better than mixing it and sending it all through one amp. George, I didn't know they were out of production. How does the Limo amp stack up to the Maxi Mouse? I have been wanting to get a better system, one with more bass, one instrument I play is bass and the mouse makes it sound a little boxy. A couple of the street musicians I know have nice powerful systems (too powerful really) that run on car batteries, they use an inverter and can plug in anything that runs on regular house current. I'd like to get something between the mouse and what they have.
Mousethief, as for mic's, I'd get a Shure SM58, best all around mic. I did meet a guy who had a lapel mic right on his harmonica holder so he didn't need a mic stand but it didn't sound that great.


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Mooh
Date: 18 Nov 00 - 11:23 AM

Not too much to add to the wisdom here, but I have to adapt my stuff to that of others sometimes. I use two Yorkville powered monitors, wedge style, which at 50 watts each can give a spread of sound around me or to a small room or hall. They can be daisy chained too. Mic and line inputs and basic bass and treble with volume controls, two channels, 10" woofer and tweeter. I've used them as bass monitors for my electric bass rig in arenas, to supplement the P.A. monitors, but I most often use them as acoustic guitar amps, usually to assist a P.A. signal which always is too light for my requirements. Day to day they serve in my teaching room for bass amplification. With a small mixer I can control the world and pack it all in the back of my hatchback Escort with 4 guitars and other gear. Truth is that I rarely use a mixer and survive with the monitors alone. I think they also come in 100 watts, but I didn't want the extra weight.

Mooh.


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Big Mick
Date: 18 Nov 00 - 12:44 PM

Yeah, you pretty well have all the dope here. On our normal gigs we us the 16 channel Mackie Board, JBL's, Crown amps, blah, blah, blah. But when I am doing a solo, or we are in a light setup, we just grab a couple of our big monitor speakers, the 8 channel Soundtech and the mic's and go. Works great and easy to haul.

And let me add a second, third, fourth and fifth to the mic piece. Get the best you can afford, and pay attention to spec's. I use a Peavey PVM 880, but this is a bit pricey. It is a "hot" mic. But the Shure SM 58 for your vocals and the SM57 for your instrumentals should be considered as a must. They are workhorses and damn durable.

I have used the Fender 250 watt system and found it to be very capable, and easy to pack and set up. Not bad systems and they seem to be a value for the price.

Mick


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 18 Nov 00 - 04:53 PM

Hey,the guy's just starting out.He may not need a 30 or 60 watt Crate or Dean,so the little RadioShack PA may be enough.Could come in handy when there's no immediate AC power supply too.But,yeah,I plan to play my amplified 12 string with the boys in the band,so I'll need at least 60w or I might as well not plug in.Mics? Radioshack does have some acceptable cheap units,including a Highball by Shure for about $40.

Question...any 12 string acoustic players who encounter feedback probs? How do you overcome them?(yeah I know,get a Rickenbacker McGuinn)


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Helen
Date: 18 Nov 00 - 07:17 PM

George,

Thanks for the info on the Maxi-Mouse. I have a Celtic lever harp with not much really deep bass, so it sounds like the MM or similar would be perfect for me. Since I have a reasonably big harp, plus stool & other stuff to carry, the last thing I need is a heavy amp etc to carry around. I'll see if I can find one over here in Oz.

Last time I was in my favourite music store they had one, or something very much like it, but that was quite a while ago. I may have left my run too late, but it's worth the effort to try to find one.

My sister plays flute so we would need a mic and an input for her, so the two inputs would be good.

Helen


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Mooh
Date: 18 Nov 00 - 08:28 PM

LEJ. I solve my acoustic 12 string problem with either a sweepable notch filter, or more likely a Boss bass graphic eq pedal. The eq is much the same as the guitar eq pedal except that I prefer the bass unit's band centres. This also doubles as a great little pre-amp.

Peace. Mooh.


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 18 Nov 00 - 10:09 PM

Hey you up there!! Yeah the guy with the 12 string!! Yah, I'm talkin' to you! Don't play so loud ya dork! You're feedin' back!

sensitive bar patron


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: georgeward
Date: 19 Nov 00 - 01:46 AM

Lonesome Gillette,

I haven't tried the Limo with the bass yet. The speaker's a bit bigger, as is the (ported) cabinet. Seems to me it should do well at moderate levels. But I don't think it is really intended to be a bass amp. Pignose makes a battery bass amp now, I think. No idea what it sounds like.

Helen,

A well-known purveyor of harp supplies on the US West Coast had the last Lectrosonics shipment of Maxi-Mice. She's a woman - can't get her name back just now - should come up easily with something like "harp" in a web search. I imagine they are gone by now. I don't know if she deals in used stuff. Might be worth a try.

-George ::-.--O


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Helen
Date: 21 Nov 00 - 11:53 PM

Hi George,

Was it Sylvia Woods? In California or somewhere near there? (my Oz-based knowledge of U.S. geography is a bit hit & miss).

Helen


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: mousethief
Date: 22 Nov 00 - 12:06 AM

Thanks everybody for the advice! This has been a real education for me. Time to start savin' up the shekels...

Alex
O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: georgeward
Date: 22 Nov 00 - 02:51 AM

Helen, Sylvia Woods it was indeed. And she is in California. I had a brief talk with someone in her shop some months ago.Knowledgable and helpful. Good luck. -George ::-.--O


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Subject: RE: A small, portable sound system?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 22 Nov 00 - 08:56 AM

Just catching up to this thread. Alex, some of the other folks who have responded may have a clearer sense of what you're looking for than I do, but it occurs to me that "small," "portable" and "inexpensive" are all relative terms. The tradeoffs should be considered, so you'll have a better idea of what to shoot for.

The all-in-one "acoustic" amps offer more portability than dual-speaker PA systems, and can work quite well for fairly intimate venues (like your recent bookstore gig). If you're looking to fill a larger space, or to play outdoors, it helps to have two speakers, elevated off the floor. The dual speakers provide a sound "spread" that can really help the music sound more spacious (the difference between listening to your stereo vs. the radio next to your bed), and also enable you to get a quality sound to all the areas you're trying to reach (not just the space right in front of you). Even if you're going with a single amp/speaker system combo (speaker and high frequency horn in one box), elevating it can make a big difference. Some of the acoustic amps have a socket in the bottom that can fit on a standard tripod speaker stand ("pole mounting"), but another option that can work well is just putting the amp on a waist-high combo amp stand (or even a chair). One thing you might consider is picking up an all-in-one acoustic guitar amp with an extension speaker outlet, so that you'll have the option of adding a second speaker in the future if desired.

One other thing to keep in mind is that a lot of these systems can sound pretty good as long as you're not pushing them too hard. A small PA like the Fender Passport systems can be fine at low volumes, but its shortcomings will become apparent if you try to crank it -- the speakers will sound thin and papery, your nice mellow tone will transform into something harsher and less musical, etc. No matter what end of the price/portability scale you find yourself at, make sure you're not planning to push the equipment beyond its comfort zone, as you will find the results less than satisfactory. [As you probably already found, you end up having to compete with an ambient noise level even when you're playing to what seems like a quiet room. Leave yourself a margin of safety.]

The correct mic and/or speaker to use is a pretty involved topic all on its own. On my steel-string acoustic guitars I use the Fishman Rare Earth Blend pickup, which is a combination magnetic pickup and internal condenser microphone, blended together through one output jack. I run it through an active direct box (the SansAmp Acoustic DI). In solo gigs I will often use this in conjunction with an outboard microphone -- either a Shure SM 57 (dynamic mic, industry standard) or a Shure SM 81 (small diaphragm condenser). Taken together, though, that combination is probably more pricey than you're looking for. If you just want to play into a mic (for reasons of cost, sound, or just because you don't want to install anything in your guitar), for an all-around acoustic guitar mic it's hard to beat the SM 57 (pick one up new for around $80 US). You'll need to find the optimum distance and orientation on the mic, and then get used to keeping your guitar still while you play. The standard approach is to get a 57 for your guitar, and a 58 (around $100 US) for vocals. Keep in mind that these and most other mics use XLR (three-pin) connectors -- if you plan to use two, you need two XLR inputs (most acoustic amps only have one), or else you need a transformer/adaptor to convert the XLR to a 1/4 inch plug.

Again, some of this advice may not fit your situation, but in addition to what others have said I would keep these considerations in mind. I want to keep this message to a reasonable length, but if you have other specific questions, fire away. Have fun.


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