For this blog post i’ll be discussing the live sound intensive i did alongside my group and what goes into making a live performance from the audio engineer side.
Fore-mostly one of the things to consider when discussing live sound is; what are you trying to achieve? For us it was a simple two act show with a dj for warm up and a band to follow. however, your requirements may be entirely different.
Nevertheless, many different things need to be considered such as size of the venue, corrective eq, PA’s available to you, and result.
The first thing in that list, [size of the venue], is incredibly important and can influence every other part of the gig/show/night, what have you.
Consider this example which i personally believe to be one of the greatest live audio engineering feats to date; Bassnectar’s 360 degree new years eve party. one of the technical rider requests was to have the volume inside the dj booth at the centre of the ring of speakers to be 0db. they achieved this within a stadium setting. for more reading about the show check out this website. http://www.meyersound.com/news/2014/bassnectar_nye/
thinking hard about how to set up in a space will mean you’re better equipped when moving onto the next area i’ve mentioned…
This part of live sound is less about creatively making things sound good for performance. initially it is about removing any unwanted resonances or frequencies from the space you’ve selected. thereafter its mostly about making sure all the instruments sit in the mix during the sound check.
Alongside this is the corrective element of the side fills so that the audible sound on stage is fine for any performers and also takes into account any required changes due to the room.
for some good tips check out this website; http://blog.sonicbids.com/the-ultimate-eq-cheat-sheet-for-every-common-instrument
moving on from this we get to a very important part of any live element.
There are honestly so many different brands of pa speaker out there that there is no such thing as the perfect speaker. (however many people are of the opinion that Funktion One are the very best at this point in time). nevertheless for any live show you need to match an appropriate amount of sound with your intended amount of people. so regardless of brand, you should be focused on achieving maximum volume relative to audience size.
For our gig we used 2 sets of dual 18″ sub boxes on each side of the stage followed by a 15″ pair of top boxes on each side for the audience, followed by another set of 15″ speakers on the sides for side fill. then we had two pairs of 15″ holdbacks for our band which worked well.
For a good guide on more of theses things have a look at this website regarding purchasing speakers. i think it’s possibly the closest to unbiased out there.
With all these things considered the only thing left is Result.
what is your intended result and do you think it’s achievable? dreaming big but starting small is one of the best ways to achieve a good live gig. also being realistic. theres no sense booking a warehouse for a party if you only have 2 PA speakers, you’ll never fill the space. think hard about your intended result and consult the others in your team and you’ll succeed.