packHolder: The Genesis

packHolder: The Genesis

20+ years of experience as a Front of House Engineer could prepare you to create a revolutionary product, although not in this case. Hi, my name is Castor Milano and what really made me come up with this product was stepping out of my comfort zone and fixing the biggest problem I had while doing so: organization. 

As stated before I’ve spent a majority of my life mixing audio for live events. The feeling of listening to my mix roar through the PA system and seeing the crowd dance, jump or even mosh, is awesome. Entering early 2022, by a twist of fate, I start mixing monitors. For the most part I'm doing 4 to 10 piece bands, most of them even with old school wedges. I then got the opportunity to work as an A2 for a corporate event. Reflecting on my recent experience mixing monitors I take the job with confidence. Little did I know that what I would be coordinating was 6 wireless handheld mics, 8 wireless instrument transmitters and 16 in-ear mixes, 24 packs in total!!!. Not that this task poses any difficulty per se, it was just the deployment of that many units that freaked me out. I then  later on I learned that most RF techs have a whole table filled with a taped grid, and cute little aluminum trays and all that, but at that moment in that place I had never seen it happen (remember, 20+ years of FOH...).

After struggling with handing all the wireless out and then running after the musicians to get them back, all I could think was "this cannot happen to me again!" I just needed a way to make this process more efficient and leave the stress out of it. I pulled from the fact that I had been working at Clear Tune Monitors for 7+ years. There I had designed their whole line of universal fit in-ears, even getting a TEC Award nomination for the Da Vinci X 10-Driver In-Ear and put my brain to task figuring out a way to create a modular system that would let me handle any kind of situation whether it was 2 or 32 packs. Two months later the bulb lit up, I sat on my computer, designed my first packHolder prototype, fired up my 3D printer and about two hours later my first baby was born (Figuratively that is, my first baby was born 9 years ago). I liked how it looked, and conveniently enough I had a gig days later in which I would test it.

The test: I got a call to mix monitors for the "Viva La Música" concert series in Seaworld Orlando, all I could think of was "Great timing!", I took my first eight packHolders and did the whole ritual as I conceived it. One by one I took the IEM packs from the RF rack, synced them, put them on a packHolder and hung them on a mic stand, it felt good, organized and stress free. Once the band arrived I showed them where the packs would be and all I said was "Here are your packs, get them from here and leave them back here". What do you know, at the end of the show I went to pick up the packs and yes, they were all back in their place, no chasing involved, definitely knew I was onto something.

I took some pictures (this page's banner is one of them actually) of my babies since I was so proud of what I had achieved  for myself but it turned out that every time I showed it to a fellow tech, he/she would either want to buy some or knew someone who would. Without knowing I had just created a new business for myself and judging by the reaction of everybody that saw it for the first time I realized, "oh shoot, this really didn't exist". So fast forward and now I have a product with a Patent Pending and the StageStrike brand of products is officially born.

Side note: Just in case you're wondering, packHolder is written in camel case, I'm also a coder and just like the aesthetics of it.

Now my eyes are open for every little opportunity that can be fixed or improved with a StageStrike gadget. Take a look at the miQb which has a totally different story but was also born out of necessity and also if you'd like to support the development of more useful products visit our swag section and get an item (or two).

Castor Milano, Audio Engineer and creator of the packHolder and miQb

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