Sound systems are getting more and more sophisticated and producing better sound quality and experiences for concertgoers. Nevertheless, if the sound system is not set up properly, even a high-quality sound system may not perform at the top of its game. Setting up a sound system for a large venue demands attention to detail. The trick is to find the appropriate balance so that everyone in the room has a comfortable experience. Large concert venues demand larger and more complicated systems. This typically involves more speakers, more monitors and more amplifiers to run the system. It also can mean more headaches, because it also requires a larger number of cables and cords.
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Set up the speakers in the optimal place. The stage in a large concert venue is at least 50 feet long, and often much larger. The correct placement of the speakers is essential in order to produce the best sound experience for the audience and the performers. To prevent feedback, the speakers should be as far away from the stage microphones as possible. The speakers should be at least five feet in front of the stage mikes. Sound control and quality is increased with the distance between the speakers and stage mikes. It is possible to get more gain from the speakers before feedback becomes a problem. If the speakers are stacked or suspended, avoid hanging them near arches. The sound reflection from the arches interferes with the sound dispersion from the speakers.
Set up three to four speakers across the front of the stage for the first few rows. The first few rows in a large venue are at a sonic disadvantage: they are seated too close to the main speakers and too close to the stage. The result is that the sound from the main system passes over them, making it difficult to hear the vocals and making the overall sound muddy and indistinct. These listeners also are hearing stage sound and monitor sounds that further interfere with sound quality. Placing three or four speakers on the stage facing the audience helps to alleviate the problem.
Place stage monitors and side monitors on the stage in the appropriate locations. Bands will have different on stage sound requirements for the number and location of monitors.
Set up the main sound board in the middle of the venue. Most concert venues have a location set up for the sound board. The centre of the venue provides the best location for hearing and adjusting the sound level and quality for the venue. Place the onstage monitor sound board on the left or right side of the stage. The amplifiers that power the whole system should be located on the side of the stage or somewhere behind the stage.
Connect everything together. A large concert system is obviously more complicated than a small club system, but the basic principles remain the same. However, it is essential to have a numbering system to keep track of every cable so that you know where everything is going and where it is coming from. The microphones, speakers, monitors, amplifiers and sound board must all be connected. Multiple speakers are connected to each other with small speaker cables in a series. The same goes for the monitors. The speakers and monitors are connected to the amplifiers with speaker cables as well. One end of the speaker cable plugs into output jack on the amplifier and into the input jack on the speaker or monitor. The amplifiers are connected to the soundboard, either the main stage sound or the onstage monitoring sound, which allows the sound person to control and adjust the sound.
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