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Author Topic: Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band  (Read 3677 times)

Carl Dacorte

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Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band
« on: December 19, 2012, 01:48:51 am »

Hey everyone!  I'm brand new to the forums and have really enjoyed the wealth of knowledge that's available to me here!

I'm posting because I'm looking for some advice on a sound system upgrade/s.  Let me give you some background on my needs and what I'm currently using.

I'm located on Chicago's South Side.  I've been a student of sound for about 10 years... volunteering at church, working as an audio contractor, and providing sound for my band.  This has grown into providing sound for other local bands, events, and concerts.  I stay pretty busy between my own band and hiring out for other functions.  Throughout the years I've pieced together a system that fits our needs as a band very well as well as my needs for providing sound for clients.  Recently our career as a band has grown and we've been out on the road in multi state tours playing larger venues.  In the summer time we play mostly county fairs and festivals in which we provide our own sound and lights.  Last summer we hired sound out because of the simplicity, but it took a large chunk of our budget too.  This year, I've decided to run our own sound from side stage.

Here's what I currently use in what could be considered my "A" rig.


Speakers:
2 x Yamaha S215IV (main tops)
2 x Yamaha Stage Pass Speakers (front fills... surprisingly, these work really well... are light weight... and I got the system as a steal!)
4 x Yamaha SW118IV (main bottoms)
Shure PSM900 IEM's
4 x Yamaha SM115V (monitors for supporting acts)

Amps:
2 x QSC Power Light 1.4 (each bridged for main tops)
1 x QSC RMX2450 (stereo for subs which I run in mono)
3 x Crown MacroTech 1200 (2 for monitors and 1 back up)

For system tuning, I'm using a Driverack +.  Far from perfect... it gets the job done and I leave the automatic tuning for the "pros" who love to offer suggestions at load in... :)

This rig gets the job done.  I've found I can provide pretty good sound at most venues with this rig and am constantly getting compliments by how good it sounds.  I can average about 85dB (C scale) around 50 yards out (out doors) with headroom to spare.  The thing I love about this setup is its flexibility.  For smaller venues I will only use 2 subs and a pair of S115IV's I also have for tops...

Here's the issue with this setup.  The places we're playing are getting bigger...  We're talking the size of a high school baseball stadium seating anywhere from 500 - 1000 people for the most part.  My current rig does the job for about 500... but I'm afraid it just doesn't cut it for any more then that.  The low end is really lacking and the more I push these subs, the more displeased I am with their performance.  We're a country/ rockabilly band and although I don't need (or enjoy for that matter) chest pumping... head shaking bass...  we still have to deliver a show that people expect.

So this brings me to why I'm posting.  I'm looking for suggestions on what has worked (or currently works) for you in a similar venue as we'll be encountering this summer.  I'm open to gear suggestions be it a completely new system, or suggestions on maximizing what I already have with maybe some new components. (different speakers... different amps...)  Here are some key points for me:

- Volume.  I looking for about 90-100 dB about 50 yards out from the stage

- Space/ Weight is a big concern.  We're traveling in a trailer with not only a sound system, but also full gear for a band, lights, merch, and luggage for up to 6 people.  I'm considering powered speakers to keep space and weight down... but am apprehensive incase one blows while we're on the road...

- Cost. I know that quality things cost money.  I'm open to selling what I currently have to afford a new rig.  My budget would be around... say...$2000.00

- The biggest point to consider is sound quality... It's got to sound good... and be reliable.

I've tried to cover all grounds to give you guys the best idea possible of the situation so that you can help me. :)  If you have any questions, please ask!

Thanks for reading this long post and thanks for any help you can offer!

(ps. - if anyone is interested in my band you can check my signature for the link)

Lee Douglas

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Re: Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2012, 02:01:29 am »

- Cost. I know that quality things cost money.  I'm open to selling what I currently have to afford a new rig.  My budget would be around... say...$2000.00

- The biggest point to consider is sound quality... It's got to sound good... and be reliable.

That's per box, right?

Added to be constructive: Given the situations you describe, my starting point would be JBL's SRX700 or the discontinued SR-X line, neither of which is small, light or cheap and will both probably require a reworking of your amp selection at some point.  Seriously consider hiring a rental company if your requirements are as you stated.  There's nothing worse than an anemic system, powered or unpowered, straining to cover too big of an area.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2012, 02:15:45 am by Lee Douglas »
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Carl Dacorte

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Re: Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2012, 02:09:40 am »

That's per box, right?

Also forgot the mention that I manage a prominent used music shop in Chicago and have access to gear from 35 stores nationwide at an employee discount...  I see LOTS of used sound equipment.  That $2000.00 dollar budget is just a starting point... an estimate.  $2000.00 dollars of used gear could easily equal $4000.00 dollars at new prices.

Lee, What would you have in mind that could fit my needs?  Considering budget, or not considering budget?  When I worked as an audio contractor, we always prepared an "A" package, "B" package, and "C" package... always starting with the "A" which was always over their budget by about 20%...  This was worked down until the needs were met and then some within their target budget.

Lee Douglas

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Re: Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2012, 02:13:36 am »

Lee, What would you have in mind that could fit my needs?  Considering budget, or not considering budget?  When I worked as an audio contractor, we always prepared an "A" package, "B" package, and "C" package... always starting with the "A" which was always over their budget by about 20%...  This was worked down until the needs were met and then some within their target budget.

Edited my original comment to address this somewhat.  You will also want to change your name to your real full name as per the posting rules or this thread will get locked.  Also this will probably get moved to the Lab Lounge section soon.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2012, 02:17:29 am by Lee Douglas »
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John Halliburton

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Re: Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2012, 08:37:35 am »

Speakers:

4 x Yamaha SM115V (monitors for supporting acts)

Amps:
2 x QSC Power Light 1.4 (each bridged for main tops)
1 x QSC RMX2450 (stereo for subs which I run in mono)
3 x Crown MacroTech 1200 (2 for monitors and 1 back up)

For system tuning, I'm using a Driverack +.  Far from perfect... it gets the job done and I leave the automatic tuning for the "pros" who love to offer suggestions at load in... :)

This rig gets the job done. 

Here's the issue with this setup.  The places we're playing are getting bigger... 

- Volume.  I looking for about 90-100 dB about 50 yards out from the stage

- Space/ Weight is a big concern.  We're traveling in a trailer with not only a sound system...


What is currently available in your used gear network?  That might be the way to start.
Otherwise, here goes...

You need either more FOH speakers, or more powerful ones, with commensurate amplification.  The first method probably means you'll need a larger trailer, which may not be a bad thing either.

Here's a suggestion that will get you the extra loudness and sound quality, yet save you trailer space and weight:  Replace the SV215 with a pair of Danley Sound SM80 or JTR Noesis 3TX.  You could also replace the subs with JTR Growlers, one of the great bangs for the buck in small subs.  Danley makes some great small subs too, probably the greatest.

You could get away with your current amplifier set up for time being, but you would be able move into larger amps, say one larger QSC Powerlight or Crown iTech for the pair of tops, the same for the subs.

A pair of iTechs would solve another issue, and provide a nice upgrade in processing for the FOH system. Otherwise, you'll probably want to move to a nice Dbx Driverack, or something from Ashly or Xilica.

There will be plenty of others offering suggestions of course.  My suggestions get you lighter weight and smaller trailer pack requirements, more power, great sound, and you could still roll into a small gig at a club with this system and knock everyone's sox off...

BTW, I'm up on the northside, and currently have a pair of the smaller JTR Noesis 2AX if you're interested in a listen.  Not quite the beast that the 3TX is, but close.

Best regards,

John
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dick rees

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Re: Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2012, 08:46:27 am »

Also forgot the mention that I manage a prominent used music shop in Chicago and have access to gear from 35 stores nationwide at an employee discount...  I see LOTS of used sound equipment.  That $2000.00 dollar budget is just a starting point... an estimate.  $2000.00 dollars of used gear could easily equal $4000.00 dollars at new prices.

Lee, What would you have in mind that could fit my needs?  Considering budget, or not considering budget?  When I worked as an audio contractor, we always prepared an "A" package, "B" package, and "C" package... always starting with the "A" which was always over their budget by about 20%...  This was worked down until the needs were met and then some within their target budget.

Forget about owning gear appropriate to your stated needs.  It'll cost you a minimum of 10x your 2 grand budget even for used.

Hire in the stuff you need and adjust your price to cover it.  Or spend some real money for real gear.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2012, 09:12:12 am »

Also forgot the mention that I manage a prominent used music shop in Chicago and have access to gear from 35 stores nationwide at an employee discount...  I see LOTS of used sound equipment.  That $2000.00 dollar budget is just a starting point... an estimate.  $2000.00 dollars of used gear could easily equal $4000.00 dollars at new prices.

Lee, What would you have in mind that could fit my needs?  Considering budget, or not considering budget?  When I worked as an audio contractor, we always prepared an "A" package, "B" package, and "C" package... always starting with the "A" which was always over their budget by about 20%...  This was worked down until the needs were met and then some within their target budget.
Hi Carl.  You're heading down a road that a lot of us have traveled before.  Unfortunately I think you'll find the consensus is that you're not going to get where you want to go for even 200% over your $2000 budget, used equipment included.  150' throw, outside, and 1000 people are three targets that mean $$$$. 

Some principles for you:
- More speakers is usually not better than fewer, especially at the low end of the price spectrum.  The speed of sound is so slow that everything interferes with everything else, which means that overlapping speakers actually cancel out some of the sound, affecting both sound quality and output.

- You get what you pay for.  I also owned 4 of the Yamaha subs you're talking about.  I replaced them with a pair of pro quality single 18" speakers and the new guys are much louder and sound better than the Yamaha's ever did, not to mention taking up less than half the space.  The cost:  $4K just for two subs and an amp.  They wouldn't have any chance of covering what you're talking about - for subs alone you need to budget probably $7500 for a set of 4 used dual 18" subs and a couple old-iron heavy amps with the power to push it.  There is a similar reality for your main speakers. $20,000 will disappear faster than you can possibly believe, and you'll still not be anywhere close to what you want to have a complete system with cases, power, appropriate mixer, etc.

- Own for your little gigs, rent for your big gigs.  We all know the pain of paying out hard-earned money to a sound contractor, but looking at the whole picture, it's usually better to do this than to have to eat a huge loan payment on gear you only use a couple times a year.  This shouldn't matter anyway - surely your customers will cover the rental cost of your needed equipment plus pay your band a fair fee, right?  :)

We're all looking for a shortcut for cheap, loud, portable, and good sounding stuff.  Unfortunately that doesn't exist, so everybody compromises - not loud enough, WAY more money spent, don't do the gig, rent the gear, etc.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2012, 10:00:18 am by TJ (Tom) Cornish »
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2012, 09:24:49 am »

Hi Carl.  You're heading down a road that a lot of us have traveled before.  Unfortunately I think you'll find the consensus is that you're not going to get where you want to go for even 200% over your $2000 budget, used equipment included.  150' throw, outside, and 1000 people are three targets that mean $$$$.
- Own for your little gigs, rent for your big gigs.  We all know the pain of paying out hard-earned money to a sound contractor, but looking at the whole picture, it's usually better to do this than to have to eat a huge loan payment on gear you only use a couple times a year.  This shouldn't matter anyway - surely your customers will cover the rental cost of your needed equipment plus pay your band a fare fee, right?  :)

{snip}

We're all looking for a shortcut for cheap, loud, portable, and good sounding stuff.  Unfortunately that doesn't exist, so everybody compromises - not loud enough, WAY more money spent, don't do the gig, rent the gear, etc.

The bold text drives the final hammer blow.

Carl, who benefits from the PA?  The audience.  Owning gear to play large gigs is chasing your tail, financially, unless you have needs so specific and critical that owning production is the only way.  Even if you buy gear, you need to keep the production fee separate from the band's artistic fee.  The promoter should be paying for the band, and then whatever the band needs to put on the show in his venue, whether those needs are PA, lights, catering, transportation, hotel rooms, etc.

As others have pointed out, if you need to cover 1000 people outdoors and hit 150' with decent level, you're looking at a very different approach to sound than you're currently used to.  It's expensive, it's heavy and it's big.  Your transportation needs will increase commensurately.  Don't forget insurance & depreciation, too.

The band would be better served if you keep the smaller rig you own now and use it when appropriate (and charge for it, that's called a "production buy-out"), and put together a technical rider so the promoter can locally hire bigger rigs when needed.  You might want to carry a console/mic/snake package for consistency and have stacks and rack hired locally.
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dick rees

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Re: Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2012, 09:32:50 am »



As others have pointed out, if you need to cover 1000 people outdoors and hit 150' with decent level, you're looking at a very different approach to sound than you're currently used to.  It's expensive, it's heavy and it's big.  Your power and transportation needs will increase commensurately.  Don't forget insurance & depreciation, too.



Bold type added.  It'll require significant power to run this stuff.  Not everyone has it available at the drop of a hat.  So you're looking at another possible (significant) expense PLUS the knowledge required to run safely.
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Mike Christy

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Re: Sound System Upgrade Recommendations for touring band
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2012, 09:58:25 am »

Carl, this is why most of us here are in business, to provide sound and lights for clients exactly like you, for a fraction of the cost of owning ( like lower single digits fraction ) with much better quality.

Having PA professionally provided will allow you to come across as a true pro act at larger shows, especailly during sound checks or when you have to troublshoot issues, and not look like a bunch of chickens running around with your heads cut off just before the first down beat.

I provide regualrly for touring acts just like you - they have enough of a task hauling their backline gear around in a trailer, hauled by a van, let alone PA gear - both together would require a small box truck, AND the van still. Then loading it ALL in and setting up...

Give one of us a chance, locally, youll be happy you did.

Mike
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