Tag Archives: Sound Reinforcement

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: 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.

What is a Program DJ?

When describing the nature of some of our services, there is often a quizzical look in response to the term “Program DJ”. Let’s see if we can make sense of it.

Everybody knows what a DJ is and does, right? Maybe. Those two letters, or the words disc jockey, can take in a lot of different roles and jobs. At the core is sound reinforcement, the playing of music and providing microphones and management for presenters. From these roots, a multitude of DJ styles grow.

A “Program DJ” works with the client in advance of an event to identify the style, genre, or even specific tracks that become the entertainment for the evening. The program DJs forte’ is events where the music is used to enhance the experience of attending, where the purpose of the event is other than dancing the night away. Program DJs can still add excitement to the dance floor, too!

More often, program DJs provide the tone and background for the event that could be networking, fundraising, exercise, dinner, or another event where the focus is on the people in attendance, not the entertainer. These DJs use musical knowledge, research and skill to select the best music in advance of the event, spending many hours screening and rehearsing to make the event wonderful.

Program DJs often have a broad musical library, and familiarity with a variety of musical styles preparing them to meet the needs of different events, social groups and desires. They’ll have a large variety of instrumental music as well as songs with lyrics. A dinner party on the green will usually call for music different for that for the corporate awards banquet. Just as different radio stations play music for different audiences, a program DJ is able to play the right music for a variety of events.

Another area that sets professional Program DJs apart is with special events. Fundraisers, races, runs, exercise events, issue rallies, parades and similar events require multiple skill sets on the part of the sound reinforcement provider. Often, there are multiple musics styles required as well as the management of the output of presenters. Playing music loud is pretty easy. People will figure out the beat and the song, even if the sound is distorted by poor management. Not so with the spoken word.

When the guests at your event need directions, your audio provider should make those announcements as clear sounding as if you were talking them at close range. Whether leading an worm-up exercise session, or providing sign-up and staging directions, if your audience can’t understand the announcements, your event can devolve into a garbled, disorganized mass. The program DJ brings the best equipment, not necessarily the biggest equipment to this event. The program DJ brings the skills to manage the voice frequencies being reinforced so the sound is intelligible.¬†Program DJ Sound Reinforcement Equipment

Club DJs provide the music that keeps you drinking and dancing into the night. Within the subset Club DJ there are variations. Some “mash” original music for you, blending multiple songs into an original version. Some of these can be published as DJ Mixes and get radio play in addition to being played by other DJs who respect the originator’s work.

Some Club DJs “scratch”, alter the sound of a song through physical or electronic manipulation of the track, making the music unique for that event. Club DJs work long hours in the rehearsal studio refining their techniques and creating the music that their audience wants.

Wedding DJ’s make or break the impression of the wedding, the most important day in the life in two people and their guests. Research has shown that hours will be dedicated to the selection of the rings, the cake, the menu and the facility, but in the end, no one will remember anything but the party that follows the formalities. (I left out big accidents like falls and the garbling of names during the introductions. Those will be remembered, too.)

Brides and Grooms should focus on selecting the Wedding DJ that gains their trust through performance during the selection process. Wedding DJs should have the flexibility to work with the principles, the planner and the families. They should be selected on the basis of their ability to provide the experience wanted by the Bride and Groom. They will present the organizational tools needed to nail down the smallest of details and to get tasks completed in the right order and on time. Select the voice you want to hear making your introductions. This is your one opportunity to make this day perfect. Don’t scrimp and compromise on your entertainment. Get a Wedding DJ.

Party DJs will often have the music variety to meet the needs of a broad population. Pool parties, house parties, birthday parties, anniversary parties, retirement parties, going away parties, coming home parties, whatever you want to celebrate with friends, require special attention from your DJ. Although the DJ may have party pricing packages, each event is unique and your Party DJ should provide you with the flexibility and skills to make your party exactly what it should be.

The foregoing is not a exhaustive list of the variety of DJ services in the marketplace. It as overview intended to differentiate between common forms in the art and how Program DJs fit into the marketplace.

Please share you comments and questions.