How much is enough? (speaker/sound)

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IceBurghDJ

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#1
In another forum there is a thread or two on 'you don't have the gear to do that gig' or 'you need a sub no matter what, 2 is better yet' and the like.

so how much is enough? And how do you determine this?

They sell 8", 10", 12" and 15" mains, 12, 15 and 18" subs, line array systems of various sizes, and do we even want to talk watts or amp types?

How do you determine what to bring to say, a wedding? Could be 50 people in a small room or 400 in a large one or somethign in between.

And what about a school dance or prom? Do the ages of the kids influence what you bring?

Is there a formula, rule of thumb, measurement (dB) at a gig that lets you know you have enough or should bring more next time?


I'm new in the biz and have started picking up school dances. I bought a guy out that retired, 1 18" sub 2 15" mains. Heavy stuff. So I got some 15 and 12's that are lighter, a modern (light, powerd) 12" sub that sounds great but I know wont' shake the walls. But for smaller weddings I've been taking no sub (one venue it's a space issue).
I'd like to book a prom (ok, for next year) and expand my school dance biz - but the rooms are huge (um, I mean gym).
Is there an ideal placement of speakers to maximize what you got?
I can daisy chain my speakers - move more air as it were...is this the solution to 'more sound' and if so, what's the best placement? Just keep lining them up on either side of me? 2 on far side of dance floor (if one could say a gym has a 'dance floor')

I want to do it right so I get asked back and get referrals and have a reputation that lets me up my prices. I go for clear sound, no clipping - something I don't find hard to do but have experienced too many DJs that can't do that.
 

steve149

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Sep 26, 2011
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#2
Everything is a compromise, so for me, it's a function of your client needs or wishes, the realities of the venues or spaces, the types of music or vocal work to be amplified and the budgets.

For example, a pair of 15" tops only will cover most events up to 100 people or so pretty easily. But they are large, and the good ones are heavy .. and they don't sound as good in the midrange as a smaller pair would. A pair of 10s or 12s, by themselves, will do small functions of say 20-50 without issue, lacking only in a bit of bass. If you want 100 people AND good midrange, you move to a sub/top combo .. using either an 8" 0r 10" (12" in a pinch) top paired with a good single or double sub. Move up to 150+ people and now you need either more power, say a 12" quality top with a pair of kicking subs, OR more speakers spread out, depending on the room layout.

Switch to a dance focused event, and sometimes you need to double everything, as the expectations to level are increased.

There is no right or wrong answers, only judgement from experience.

I gave up doing large events, so sold off my Yorkville Unity system and amp rack, so for me, I'm probably OK up to 75-100 with either my EVOX 8 system or my JBL 12" tops over Yamaha subs. If I need to cover 150, I might be on the fringe of handling it adequately with either system if tons of volume aren't needed, or possibly with both systems spread out appropriately.

I think what's key is to have flexibility in your gear. For me, no more 15" tops, as I can do with the EVOX what I did with my old 15s (Yamaha Club, JBL MPro) and they sound better, IMO, in the mid section. A pair or 2 of 12s for basic stuff (including ceremony type things) along with a good 10" pair and some decent subs, will cover for most scenarios I envision.
 

ittigger

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Feb 1, 2011
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#3
First things first. What do YOU want to provide? There is no 'one size fits all' silver bullet answer to your question.

For a 50-100 person party, you may need x amount of equipment. A 300-400 person party may require something totally different. Could you use the 300-400 equipment at a 50-100 person event .. sure. Would it be overkill? Possibly. Depending on the venue /room, it could be overkill for a 300-400 person party.

Some people swear by subs .. and you really should have them if doing large events (like proms). Alot of people do alot of events without subs. The area you're playing in also affects sound. A ballroom, an airplane hangar, a gym and a room at the local American Legion will all have different acoustic properties. Indoors vs Outdoors also changes things.

Alot of the systems we have are because that's the sound WE want. Unless you A / B alot of these systems, most of your customers are NOT going to notice missing frequencies. What they will notice is bad sound.

School dances usually want loud clean sound. Expect that you will need several subs and tops.

'Daisy Chaining' does nothing to give you more power. You need more speakers .. or speakers that can handle a higher output. If you're referring to adding more speakers, then yes, they can be daisy chained .. but even this should be done properly. If they are all Powered speakers, this is pretty easy. If they are Passive speakers, not so easy. If it's a combination of Passive and Powered, it's a little less easy. In addition, ALL speakers on a given line / front / direction .. should be the same type and kind. You should not be mixing and matching different manufacturer, type and size speakers. In the event that you have to, there should be spacing between the variety.
 
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Valerie Hicks

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#4
Regarding school dances:
Our goal is to provide good clean loud sound for a very large dance floor; to accomodate 500, 1000, or even 2000 kids. It includes 24 18's, and 12 3-way highpacks. We run over 20,000 watts rms. It's pretty rare we push the system really hard...but we keep it pumping.

I don't necessarily recommend everyone haul THAT big of a system, but the reality is that for big sound for big schools in big rooms, you need numbers.
 
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DJ Ricky B

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Mar 9, 2015
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#5
I haven't performed a single event with over 200 in attendance in 2 years now.

two 12" tops without a sub are used at 70% of my events I do. About 10% are small enough that I just use two 10" tops. About 17% of events get a sub and two 12s, and the remaining 3% of events I will be nostalgic and bring out my older JBL JRX15s. ...Maybe one gig a year I might use two 12s, and a 10 due to the lay out of the room, and position the 10 so people in the back can hear.
 

IceBurghDJ

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#6
AFAI understand sound = air movement. If you want more sound that means you need to move more air. So a 15" will provide more sound than a 12. Two 15s more sound than 1., etc.
I'm not saying volume as a 15" turned up in your car will hurt you and in a gym it will probably not be loud enough. 90db at 1 meter is 90db at one meter regardless of the room or speaker.

@steve149 - I've done gigs with a pair of 12s and a pair of 15s, 12s and a sub, 15s and a sub. Depends on the event...a dance-focused gig needs a sub in IMO -for 'the sound' if not for the shaking potential. A prom crowd is gonna want you to shake the place I should think, where a grad party or b'day party not so much.

So .. why do so many use/rec subs in pairs?I can turn up my one sub to the point it's not a balanced mix...a second would mean running both at a low load. If the point is moving air then yes, 2 moves more than 1, but do 2 at 1/3 power move more air than one at 3/4 power?

When you get a 'hard' room (gym, etc) with lots of hard reflective surfaces what adjustment do you make compared to a 'soft' room like many hotels (carpet, fabric on walls, lower ceiling, etc)? ( so maybe I can learn or make a plan and not have to try this and that and then the toher thing too)

The gym I did I brought my old 15s and 18 sub. Volume (db) wasn't an issue IMO, and I think it sounded good - but I had it turned up about all the way (or as far as I feel comfortable). Never turned it up that loud at a wedding.

Next dance sounds like a similar room (large, tall, hard) and i"m bringing my new 15s and small sub. It's a gradeschool cast party -figure they don't need/want as much 'atmosphere' or 'oomph' as a jr high dance.

@ittigger Daisychaining or whatever the term is..I keep adding speakers, halving the ohms and my amp doubles it's power so watts per speaker remain teh same with 2 or 4 speakers. (or so I"m led to believe). I tested it in my studio (2 car garage) and I can't say the db increased (have a meter) but I was certainly moving more air - producing more sound. If the weather here ever cooperates I plan to set things up outside an annoy the neighbors, i mean, test things out a bit. Never done an outside gig so part of this is seeing what does what and what i think I need to do.

As to old vs new speakers..I have 15 year old mackie s505 (2 way 15") and new peavey PR15 (2 way 15") and can't say there's much, if any, difference to sound quality/frequency. The mackies have a 75d horizontal dispersion and the peavey's 90d and I can tell teh difference. Not sure which I prefer or how it will be at a gig. Probably get better (more even) sound on the floor and less throw across the room.
 

steve149

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#7
You do not need a pair of subs if the one you use is sufficient. For me, I prefer the look of a top over a sub as opposed to tops on stands .. so I use 2, but since the sub frequencies are not as identifiable as to origin, one will work, even if you use stereo (another topic).

Rooms with reflective surfaces (gym floors, concrete walls, windows, etc.) generally need more speakers, at a lower level, pointed at the listeners and away from those surfaces. For big rooms, I will sometimes have a second, remote set of speakers (either at the back facing forward or at the side facing back) delayed appropriately, so I can keep the main volume down to minimize those reflections/refractions.

I don't care for 15" tops with subs, unless the tops are 3-way. A 15 will have issues producing 100Hz frequencies and 2400 Hz ones. If I use a sub, the top is a 12" or smaller. The 15s used to be used sub-less, except for my Unitys, which were 3 way tops (HF, 3-mid drivers, 15" woofer). 15s kill female voices (and some male ones) too much for my liking. YMMV.
 
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IceBurghDJ

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#8
Makes sense on the more speakers lower volume...how do get the delay on the far speakers?

I play in mono.

I sorta like the sound of my 15s more than my 12s. But so much is relative. My 12" sub is impressive IMO, for the sound it gives (frequence/balance more so than volume/shaking ability) .Even with 15" mains it improves the sound - at least in a small room. Gonna test that combo in the big room saturday.

I've been playing most gigs without a sub - only had my 18" 90lb peavey beast until recently. And had technical issues making it play (learning how to set the amps up - have two mackie 1400i and they have crossovers in them..gotta adjust them right, set the second amp to be a sub amp, etc. took me a while to get it figured out. Haven't run the sub at full power - it can handle my amp bridged, so twice teh power i've been feeding it. Should be interesting to see what double the watts will do when all else is the same.

Been using 12" as much as possible for weight reasons, and I want gear that fits in my car - I can get teh 12s and 18" sub in there (with lights, amps, etc). The new 15"s fit in the car (weight/height)..not sure they and the 18" sub will all cohabitate without a shoehorn. The 12" sub is tiny.

Unless I played bars where size matters I'm not going after 10s or 8s.
 

steve149

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#10
Makes sense on the more speakers lower volume...how do get the delay on the far speakers?

I play in mono.

I sorta like the sound of my 15s more than my 12s. But so much is relative. My 12" sub is impressive IMO, for the sound it gives (frequence/balance more so than volume/shaking ability) .Even with 15" mains it improves the sound - at least in a small room. Gonna test that combo in the big room saturday.

I've been playing most gigs without a sub - only had my 18" 90lb peavey beast until recently. And had technical issues making it play (learning how to set the amps up - have two mackie 1400i and they have crossovers in them..gotta adjust them right, set the second amp to be a sub amp, etc. took me a while to get it figured out. Haven't run the sub at full power - it can handle my amp bridged, so twice teh power i've been feeding it. Should be interesting to see what double the watts will do when all else is the same.

Been using 12" as much as possible for weight reasons, and I want gear that fits in my car - I can get teh 12s and 18" sub in there (with lights, amps, etc). The new 15"s fit in the car (weight/height)..not sure they and the 18" sub will all cohabitate without a shoehorn. The 12" sub is tiny.

Unless I played bars where size matters I'm not going after 10s or 8s.
The Driverack has variable delay on the outputs. If I need it, I carry 2 Behringer Sharks (one of the best Behringer products IMO) that are swiss army knives of the audio world .. they have a delay function as one feature.

I run 2 smaller subs .. both to give me the look I want and to keep weight down. I will run tops only for the very smallest of speaking events. The new EVOX 8 takes up less floor space than my JBLs on stands.
 

steve149

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#11
Interesting that nobody with a line array has said anything.
I"m impressed with what are they, 5" speakers? can do.
The linear arrays (hate calling them line arrays as that usually means large units) do help in controlling volume as the physics seems to allow the mid/HF audio to carry farther than a typical horn would. This allows me to keep the volume a little lower for the same net effect further out. My EVOX use small 2" compression drivers (8 of them).
 

Jeff Romard

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#12
There is much more to it than this but the old standard used to be 3 watts per person and 100 for the room in a standard size hall
 

DJ SVO

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#13
There's no such thing as "too much" :D :D :D
 

IceBurghDJ

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#15
There is much more to it than this but the old standard used to be 3 watts per person and 100 for the room in a standard size hall
I like the simplicity of that..but watts are not watts are not watts. And I don't mean just peak vs rms vs program, etc.

It seems to me there is a watts race out there. My system runs 250-300 watts per channel (depends what spec I refer to), as in continuous (as opposed to peak/rms/program etc). I can get 120db without clipping.
I see most of what is offered for small bands to be about the same output, or often less.

But for self powered in particular, the watts I see listed (advertised at least) are 1000, 1500 and maybe more. Yet I'm sure they don't put out more dB.

I can double my speakers and that doubles the watts the amp is producing, yet things won't get twice as loud, or maybe even louder at all (in dB)

Hence my, um, confusion I guess you could say..perhaps consternation is a better word.

As for the other statement, it brings to mind a similar statement from my car and bike days..."Too much is never enough, and when in doubt, double it!"
Or speed costs money..how fast can you afford to go?
 
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steve149

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#16
"No watts for you" ... it is a silly game .. you need 10x the power for a perceived doubling of volume. So even 1000w amps are probably run at closer to 100w most of the time. I know I used to run my large rig with 3 QSC PLX2 amps (subs, 3-way tops and monitors) .. along with front of house gear, on a single 15a circuit pulling less than 10a .. and that covered 400+ people. SO that's 1200 watts of input power, which probably becomes 1000w of output power, so the subs were probably pulling 600 of that, with the tops and monitors pulling 150-200 a piece. So .. yea .. large amps are nice, but not used all that much in our line.
 

DJ SVO

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#17
Yes, but big passive systems are a lot of fun :D .
 

IceBurghDJ

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#19
I can run both my amps and all my lights, laptops, mixer, sound card, various other bits on one 15amp circuit at full volume and have no issues.
And that's a good thing of course!

One thing that keeps me 'passive', so to speak, is the lack of outlets at some places. I guess I could bring another 100' of ac cord and run it all back to my station, but thats more work (to carry, setup, tear down, etc).

More components are just more things to fail!

"No watts for you" ... it is a silly game .. you need 10x the power for a perceived doubling of volume. So even 1000w amps are probably run at closer to 100w most of the time. I know I used to run my large rig with 3 QSC PLX2 amps (subs, 3-way tops and monitors) .. along with front of house gear, on a single 15a circuit pulling less than 10a .. and that covered 400+ people. SO that's 1200 watts of input power, which probably becomes 1000w of output power, so the subs were probably pulling 600 of that, with the tops and monitors pulling 150-200 a piece. So .. yea .. large amps are nice, but not used all that much in our line.
 
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