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Monitors: Let Me Count the Ways

When we started in live sound, the first stage monitor had not yet been used.

Since that time, monitors have become more and more important to performers, many of whom decided to use them on the basis of magazine articles telling them how much they need them.

A few years back were asked to rehabilitate the reputation of a band that had been vanquished from a venue because their sound was offensive. Customers held their hands over their ears, then left when the band performed; a bad model for a bar/restaurant.

The room, 25’X40′ with an eight foot high ceiling, doubled as a dining room. The stage was 15′ wide by 8′ deep. The six person band, keys, drums, bass, rhythm, lead guitars and a vocalist was crammed into that space.

We talked about gear and settled on replacing the four fifteen inch, 250 watt, 95 db SPL floor monitors with five, 6.5 inch, 170 watt, 100 db SPL (potential), microphone stand mounted monitors. These permitted lower real levels by placing the monitor speaker two to three feet from the musician and aimed at the ears, not their genitals. We still had a proximity problem with so many microphones and monitors placed so closely to each other, and it was impossible to get the three principle vocalists to move beyond thirty-six inches from each other, requiring a reduction of monitor volume levels to avoid feedback. 

The house sound was wonderful! Without all of the extraneous monitor noise on the stage, the patrons and fans were treated to the talent of the performers presented through speakers appropriate for the space and musical presentation. It might be fun to say, “We’re LOUD,” but it is never fun for the audience when that translates to, “We will HURT you.” The band subsequently used several tracks recorded on mobile devices as promo materials for as long as they lasted.

We deployed the same monitors for a bluegrass band and for a country in the same venue with great results for the bands, the audience and the venue’s receipts! Its amazing how much more food and drinks can be sold when the servers can take and fill orders.

Appalachian Flyer

Appalachian Flyer at Mick O’Shea’s

Choosing the correct equipment should depend on the needs of the performance, and not be limited to whatever the band members bought for their earlier ventures. Professional sound starts with the assessment of the sound reinforcement needs of the band, the venue and the audience. One size does not fit all.

Music Makes the Moment!

Whether you’re hosting an epic holiday party or an intimate gathering with a few close friends, a great playlist sets the mood and takes your party to the next level!

As the party planner, you have control over the vibe, tempo and theme of your playlist. That’s awesome, but might also be a little daunting. These five tips will help you throw a holiday get together that people will talk about for years to come!

Five Tips for Building the Perfect Party Playlist
• Figure out the goal of your playlist. Are you trying to create a relaxed atmosphere or a full-on dance party? Once you have that figured out, you’ll have a clearer idea of what kind of music to put on the list.
• Make sure your playlist is the right length. Plan for at least three hours of music. You don’t want to have to repeat your playlist!
• Think of your group’s overall makeup. Plan a playlist that everyone can enjoy – if you’re not sure, or your guests span a wide range of ages, you can’t go wrong with the classics. Think Bing Crosby, Mariah Carey, Mannheim Steamroller, the soundtrack from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.
• Have an alternate playlist. If your carefully cultivated playlist bombs (perhaps you over-indulged your love of polka music by one song too many) have another one handy to swap with the one that’s not working and get the party back on track.
• Listen to your entire playlist before the party. Don’t just plug in song titles. By hearing it before the party, you’ll know if flow well together and share the same vibe.
The foregoing advice from Yamaha is good guidance.
Don’t ignore the option of hiring a professional to help you design the playlist and play it at your party.
Program DJ’s can not only assemble a playlist, they will often have thousands of additional tracks on-hand to meet your requests and those of your guests, making it the best party ever!

AutoMixing: Managing the Microphones for Corporate Panel Discussions

Sound reinforcement providers have always struggled to manage multiple live microphones. The problem is that every open microphone diminishes the output of every other open microphone. The sound operator at events with lots of microphones spends all their time trying to keep up with the levels.

This problem doesn’t rear its head at live music performances. It comes to the forefront when there are several presenters or speakers at an event. Panels of speakers are the most difficult to manage.


Basic Sound Business Services has added the industry standard solution to their arsenal – AutoMixing.

This solution maintains the level for each speaker while minimizing the interference from microphones that are not being used by their presenter, thereby providing the presenters who are speaking with the cleanest, clearest sound for the audience.

When someone joins the conversation, their microphone is activated within milliseconds and the balance between all of the microphones is maintained. Your audience doesn’t get cut out of the conversation by microphones that cut-out.

We have all read about, or experienced, the problems encountered by panels at business meetings, political debates and other events. It doesn’t have to happen to you!

If you sponsor panel discussions, presentations with audience Q&A, Town Hall Meetings, debates, or any event with multiple speakers or presenters, call on us to make your event better.

Does Liability Insurance Matter to you?

In a recent discussion with other event services vendors, the subject of liability insurance came up.

We, of course, have it and are happy to obtain Certificates of Insurance for our clients, but venues never ask.Image result for certificate of insurance image

Do you require insurance from your audio/PA vendors? Does your business expect that vendors coming on site carry liability insurance? Please share your thoughts.

Workout Sound: Runs, Walks & Rides

Punxsutawney Phil tells us that Spring is just around the corner, sometime after the next snow storm, or the one after that.

VDAY_Mud RunWhen it arrives, Spring will bring all nature of rides, runs and walks for charities and for fun! Of the elements that make these events work, music tailored to the activity and a public address system that keeps the participants informed enhances the event, keeping it moving on schedule and enjoyable for everyone.

Announcements have to be intelligible (understood) to move folks from the parking area to registration to staging to the start line. Your sound engineer must have the skills and understanding of audio to make this happen. All of have attended events where, after an announcement, we heard and said, “What did they say?”

Warm-up music should reach out to the greatest demographics, containing elements that help the participants warm-up both bicycle-race_42046_600x450emotionally and physically. Audio providers should have a broad collection of music designed to enhance the exercise aspect of your event, music with a beat that will help bring up the heart rate and get people ready to go!

If an event contains a formal warm-up, led by a celebrity, a headset microphone is a must! Remember seeing the exercise leader calling out the instructions as they demonstrate the exercise while trying to hold a microphone, dropping it, or watching as someone tried to hold a microphone up to the leader’s mouth. Don’t let that happen at your event.MikeStart

Core to all of this is an audio provider with the knowledge and experience to make your event the best it can be, providing the equipment and music that keep your participants coming back year after year!

Share your stories of successes and unmet challenges here, not only improving your next event, but that of the organizers of other events attended by your supporters.


Automixing: Managing Sound with Multiple Open Microphones

You have planned a super event with four subject matter experts to enlighten your audience. Your sound reinforcement provider sets up microphones for them, and one for the moderator. That’ll work! Right?9.6.dionysus-LA

During the discussion, two, then three experts interrupt each other, correcting and expanding on their colleague’s comments. The sound drops out. Your moderator attempts to get control and a painful feedback squeal assaults your audience. This is what your audience remembers.

Or you have three experts lined up and ready to go when theSeated Panel two pre-eminent researchers in the field show up, and you ask them to share microphones. This results in more bad sound, and an audience looking for the exits. The media reports about the sound.

We have all been at, or read about, events like these, or political debates, community theaters, town halls and others places where the presenters talk over each other, swap microphones back and forth, and more, all diminishing the value to your audience of your well planned event.

Basic Sound Business Services has added the solution for this to our arsenal of corporate event communication tools – AutoMixing.

When there are multiple open microphones, they each interfere with each other, diminishing the quality of the sound. The closer together the microphones, the greater the interference, diminishing the quality of the presentations. When microphones are handled, the result is often a disturbing rumble. Too often, there is cacophony, or painful feedback.

We understand the importance to our corporate clients for high quality sound events and have gone the extra mile to ensure good, basic sound.  Our Automixer maintains the balance when multiple people speak, turning down the microphones that are not being used, turning them up within milliseconds when they receive a signal. We can supply and manage up to sixteen microphones, a task that would far exceed the manual dexterity of the best sound technicians.

View of the room

View of the room

If you plan events, hold events, or sponsor events with multiple presenters, we can improve the sound and clarity for you. Let us know if you have questions about your events.

Is It Real Or Is It MP3? And Can You Tell?

At a Chamber of Commerce networking event with sound reinforced, recorded music, held in a room with a concrete floor, steel ceiling, and one glass wall, an attendee approached to discuss the quality differences between music recorded and played back on CD and MP3.Networking at BMI He explained at length his qualifications and listening habits, all culminating in the conclusion that he could tell the difference and it was extreme, AND he couldn’t listen to MP3 music files without discomfort. We had both kinds of files in the playlist. I invited him to let me know when he heard an MP3 file. He didn’t return to the mixing board location. The technology writers at The Guardian took a look at this question and more and shared their conclusions. What is your experience? Can you tell the difference? Does the listening environment make a difference for you?

Music: It’s not the size of your stacks, but the clarity of the sound

Who can forFillmore Westget the Fillmore West’s 1969 sound, stacks of speaker cabinets providing a visual background and deafening noise. From the Grateful Dead, to Santana and early Heavy Metal a big sound was born.Technologies have changed how live music can be delivered.

In the twenty-first century, two one-thousand watt cabinets with a pair of 12″ speakers each and a matching sub-woofer provide far more intelligible and pleasant sound than four 250 watt, two way speakers from the last century, for the audience of 300 people or less. That’s where bands are playing, week in and week out.

High quality, high efficiency components, not only make the musicians sound good, they enhance the listening experience for the audience. After all, you aren’t playing at the Fillmore.

And, when the venue is selling food and drink, the too loud performance prevents the customer from placing the order and sales suffer. When the music is just plain loud, the audience feels real pain. If you’re in pain and can’t order the food or beverage you want, what do you?

Why, you answer the question put forth by The Clash: Do I Stay or Do I Go?

With so many entertainment venue options available, the answer will be clear.

Save your band with sound that takes into account the needs of the band, the audience and the venue. Move on to greater success.