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Where to start with sound reinforcement?

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  • #16
    Re: Where to start with sound reinforcement?

    Originally posted by Randy L View Post
    Echo'ing AMC's comment, the CR-V is limited in cargo room. Since you are on a STEEP budget, you probably will not invest in a trailer (if you don't already have one). Before deciding on speakers, lift up your rear seats and take some measurements to see what you actually can fit in the back. I doubt you will be able to fit a dual woofer cabinet, even laying down.
    Just looking at CR-V pics, I'd say you might be able to squeeze in 4 compact full-range speakers.
    The enormous Electro-Voice speakers fit....just. I looked up the dimensions and measured the car before I bought them. :D

    Were I to upgrade, I'd go for some very compact 15" tapped horns 120hz+ front-loaded 10" horn combination I saw on DIYaudio.

    The subwoofers in question are only good to 50hz, but the output level far exceeds what can be obtained from a ported box and they're only about 25" x 30" x 18" - and, according to HornResp, they'll work with the extremely affordable Dayton PA380s. And, once again, CRV-portable.

    That said, the trailer idea is one so painfully obvious I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't thought of it myself.

    Anyway, questions continuing:

    1. I should buy a microphone. Do I get a secondhand SM57/58/whatever, use my current semi-unsuitable microphone, or just buy cheap ones on the basis that they'll be destroyed?

    2. Can anyone recommend some speaker stands? There's some well-rated units on Amazon for $30/per, but I suspect they're for the flimsy blow-molded nonsense called "PA equipment" these days. The speakers I've got are very wide and very shallow - maybe some keyboard stands?

    3. If I put in a high-pass at about 50hz to avoid damaging my speakers, will anyone notice and/or care?

    4. Who do I start selling to? :D


    • #17
      Re: Where to start with sound reinforcement?

      1. I should buy a microphone. Do I get a secondhand SM57/58/whatever, use my current semi-unsuitable microphone, or just buy cheap ones on the basis that they'll be destroyed?
      Second hand SM's are fine and inexpensive.

      3. If I put in a high-pass at about 50hz to avoid damaging my speakers, will anyone notice and/or care?
      I would recommend doing so.
      If you get a graphic EQ ( a 31 band is indispensable - IMO ) do a "poor man's" filtering by pulling the sliders below 50Hz down to max attenuation.
      Even this cleans up the sound.
      "Not a Speaker Designer - Not even on the Internet"
      “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”
      "If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."


      • #18
        Re: Where to start with sound reinforcement?

        Originally posted by spasticteapot View Post
        3. If I put in a high-pass at about 50hz to avoid damaging my speakers, will anyone notice and/or care?
        Unfortunately, yes. It's a fine line you have to walk between commercial viability and 'enough bass'. When you figure out the magic formula, let us know. Or, more likely, you'll keep it a closely guarded trade secret to stay a step ahead of your competition.


        • #19
          Re: Where to start with sound reinforcement?

          Originally posted by spasticteapot View Post
          I'm right now mostly focusing on the business of providing equipment and setting it up properly - ideally, the customer can then just plug in their iPod and use the microphone however they wish. Going rate for a very basic PA around here is $250 plus ~$500 security deposit, so undercutting the rate of the local rent-it-all won't be difficult. The issue I have is whether my equipment is adequate given the prevalence of bass in modern dance music, and how I might use it to greatest effect.
          Having worked both sides of this arrangement for several years.. I lived in a university residence that hosted many parties, and now provide rental equipment, I think I have some insight to offer. When I was on residence we had a local provider bring in gear for all our house parties, it usually consisted of some big ole JBL or EV PA cabs and a rack with tape decks(I'm dating myself now:D) and later on CD players. We pounded these systems mercilessly with the amps in nearly solid clipping all night long, but rarely ever blew anything up. The reason for that was that the speakers could handle about double the power the amps could generate so there was almost no way to blow anything. Knowing this the systems I'm currently assembling for my rental business use all powered speakers because the speaker protection is built-in, and the consoles have lots of input options but otherwise limit the amount of damage that can be done.. no racked EQ for example. Here's the basic DJ system I have in circulation right now.., it's an all-in-one CD/Mixer/Ipod console from Numark with a Mackie Thump powered speakers and a Sennheizer wireless mic. This easily fits in the back of my Subaru Wagon, takes only minutes to setup, generates plenty of output for indoor events up to about 200 people, and so far has proven to be reliable.
          I also have a selection of passive speakers and amps but I generally don't rent them out simply because protecting them is harder, and if I were to the limiters in the PA processor in the amp rack would definitely have to setup accordingly, otherwise I'd likely be spending all my profits on replacement drivers.

          In your case with passive speakers I think you definitely need a PA processor first to provide speaker protection, EQ, and crossover functions that cannot be tampered with(it can be locked), and then a sub should be your next step and I'd suggest you jump right into powered subs when you do buy for all the reasons mentioned.
          Last edited by Paul O; 08-19-2011, 04:13 PM.
          Paul O


          • #20
            Re: Where to start with sound reinforcement?

            Thanks for the response. I very much appreciate it. If anyone, especially Paul O, has any insight on marketing such a service, I'd be glad to hear it.

            Anyway, here's my thoughts on the subject:

            1. If you pay for the sound equipment, I run it for you. Whether you like it or not. If the clip light goes on, the volume goes down. (Under-amping sounds like a bad idea - unless I had some sort of low-pass filter on the tweeters, clipping can send bonkers amounts of power through nastily expensive tweeter diaphragms.)

            2. I don't have a graphic EQ, and can't really justify buying one right now. (See #3). I suspect I'll either be picking up some Harrison "FMOD" passive crossovers or just building something myself. The board does have an onboard 80hz high-pass, but that's a bit higher than I'd like.

            3. While more than adequate for PA duty without sub, the equipment I've got isn't suitable for regular use. If I can make any significant money off of this sort of thing, I'll be clearing out the lot of it in fairly short order in favor of some great big DIY horns. Swapping the whole mess for high-output PA speakers, modern amps, and a DCX2496 might cost on the order of $1500, but it sounds like that could be recouped in a matter of months. (Can a 1997 Honda Civic be used to tow a small trailer? One way to find out...)

            On the list of tricky questions is what - if anything - to use to prop these up in the air. They're too wide and too heavy for use with conventional speaker tripods, and I'm at a bit of a loss. One option is to fashion some collapsible tables out of 4" PVC, though I am wondering if I can get away with buying some keyboard stands.


            • #21
              Re: Where to start with sound reinforcement?

              Your best bet is too find a local small bar that needs a sound system and install what you have there and be rid of it.

              The level of equipment you have is just rent and run and does not require setup. Why get involved in the liability of setting up the gear. Let the renters figure out how to raise the speakers., Your cheap remember, so don't get bogged down with accessories for equipment you won't have a long time.
              Lending your "expertise" when you really don't have any could be a disaster.

              DIY is not a good idea for rental, because you want to dump your equipment before it gets too old looking for new gear, that is what successful rental companies do. Rent too retail and then sell at cost. Very simple formula.

              Guaging the level you are at, you're not ready to be a sound company, so assemble clever portable systems that people can setup themselves, and maybe rent yourself out to a club or two that you bring the house gear for their occasional gigs, and use your bigger systems for outdoor festivals and market to high Schools so the kids can dj their dances. Finding a work around the $500 deposit by setting up an account with the school to cover the deposit will help the kids out and you might see 3 to 4 systems going out the door every other week. Price your equipment accordingly, Shure's are very rugged so they are a good choice, but Peavey for example makes reasonably good microphones for 1/2 the money and are nearly as durable. Need lots of cables and adapters

              Renting a digital processor like the Behringer is likely a big headache in the making....get a real processor that gives you flexibility and control options to have larger systems (BSS Blu-80). The Behringer just complicates a very basic PA system.

              EQ is essential for getting rid of feedback and other should have those and stage monitors if you're thinking about live band PA rentals, mic stands, compressors etc.....etc.

              slippery slope......then there is the lights...almost forgot.
              “Never ask people about your work.”
              ― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead


              • #22
                Re: Where to start with sound reinforcement?

                Absolutely agree on going with name brand gear (good name brand). Yes I am a DIY guy, but one of the first questions people will ask is, "What brand gear do you rent?", And in general people will pay more for Peavey, then better sounding homemade. And as he stated above, then you sell it! Would you spend good money on homemade PA gear if you didn't really know the person?

                I would also be cautious about those 'subs' you were thinking about building, I love the idea, and the size, but they came out more as kick-bins(55-120Hz), rather then subs (35-80Hz).

                I would use what you have for now, rent it cheap to establish a reputation. And talk to all your customers, find out what works well, what they didn't like, and then you will know what you need moving forward.

                I love your enthusiasm and desire, and please don't think I am trying to be a wet blanket, I wish you all the best. In truth, I have been thinking about doing something like this myself.

                PS. Find out what the other rental places are doing in your area, and then figure out what they are missing. Going head to head with established businesses is not a good way to start, find the hole in their biz model, and fill it. If they are attacking the frat party crowd, go after the company picnic market. Just do something to set yourself apart, or you will get lost in the forest.


                • #23
                  Re: Where to start with sound reinforcement?

                  Originally posted by AMC View Post
                  Enough said...
                  Stacking the backline to the ceiling is a common showmanship technique at rock shows, but usually only one or two cabinets are hooked up, to a single head. I've heard (from a union stagehand friend) of tours carrying stacks of Marshall cabinets without any drivers in them, and I've even heard of 'dummy' heads with dimmed incandescent light bulbs inside behind the tubes to simulate a very exaggerated tube glow. Had you fooled, eh?

                  Regarding the OP's inquiry, there seem to be lots of larger local sound providers out there who will say almost anything to prevent a 'guy with a couple speakers' (who they view as a bottom-feeder) from entering their market, and the principal argument against getting into live sound is the cost of entry into the market. However, from the venues you're talking about, it sounds less like you want to do bar bands and small outdoor festivals, and more like you're just wanting to pick up a few side jobs in coffee shops. As long as you know your limitations and don't try to work too far outside them until you've bought the gear to properly serve more advanced clientele, there's nothing wrong with being a 'guy with a couple speakers'.

                  Stick with your EV cabinets as mains. EV is a name that will go a long way. However, the FR15 cabinets (if you're talking about the FR15-2, which are big square boxes) are probably too cumbersome to use in the long term, and getting them high enough above the audience to sound good will be tough (unless you use some DIY subs shaped like the Community CSX50 to match the FR15's width and just make a stack). The alternative is to try to sell off the FR15 cabinets (try eBay; you may get more than you paid for them) and buy something from Yamaha or Community with a 12" woofer.

                  Who told you that crap about the hat? That makes no sense at all, and my friends in the business will tell you what utter bulls--- that is. What will build your business is an earnest attitude toward pleasing the customer, which will drive word of mouth. Save your money on the hat, and make some business cards instead.

                  $250/evening is a typical call fee for a sound engineer providing sound for a bar band in my town (Lafayette, IN), so if you can make $100 at a single gig of the type that you're able to do (where you essentially babysit the gear), consider yourself very fortunate until you have enough gear to provide reinforcement for an entire band. Before you go spending money on other speakers, work on getting more gear, like microphones, cables, mic stands (the boom type are usually preferred by musos) and some big plastic Rubbermaid tubs to put it all in.

                  Don't expect to get rich doing this. I certainly couldn't afford to drive the car I drive and rent the place I rent if this were my day job. And when considering what the music rental places across town charge for their services, also have the humility to realize that their personnel are also more experienced and probably better workers than you are (at least at first), and don't walk around with the attitude that their prices are highway robbery or that they're dishonest. Like everyone else in the world, they need to make a buck, and someday you'll probably need to rent some gear from them. One guy in town that I know has a small speakers-on-sticks system with a small digital console but rents a full triamped rig from a company in Indianapolis to do the very big shows.

                  Eventually you will also need to move to a more sustainable business model - that is, you will need to operate at a profit. When you do this, consider that being 'too expensive' is easier to recover from in a short span of time than being 'too cheap' - that is, you'll have an easier time recognizing that you're losing gigs on price and lowering your fee until you start getting gigs than you will have in convincing a previous customer that you are worth more than they paid you last time to do the same work. I speak from personal experience.
                  Best Regards,

                  Rory Buszka

                  Taterworks Audio

                  "The work of the individual still remains the spark which moves mankind ahead, even more than teamwork." - Igor I. Sikorsky

                  If it works, but you don't know why it works, then you haven't done any engineering.