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Author Topic: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space  (Read 850 times)

Stephen Fairchild

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PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« on: September 17, 2017, 01:23:50 pm »

I'm building out a small live music place in an old retail store. I've got two rooms both about 25' x 40' with 15' drop ceilings. We can fit about 75-100 people. I plan on only providing sound in one of the rooms so the other room could be used to "escape" the sound for conversations, etc. I'm really torn between a few things.

1.) Passive or Active or Both. I'm not scared of a passive system. I'm a fast learner with the time to dedicate to learn it. I also have support from folks I can lean on in the early stages. The system will rarely be moved. I guess this is opinionated, but thoughts that can help sway my decision?

2.) I'm eyeballing the following components. (2) 15" or 18" subs roughly 2000W, (2) 1500W Mains, (4) performer monitors. Thinking about skimping slighly on monitor quality with budget focused more on sound for FOH. Bad idea? Are 2 subs enough? The sound will often include deep bass drops similar to that of dubstep, hip-hop, etc. Just calling out this isn't your standard Ozzy metal. If 2 subs aren't enough, that's too bad, because I can't afford more just yet. 2 Subs hurts my budget quite a bit. Can I get by with 1? This is an important part of our sound so I think not but looking for confirmation.

3.) Loudspeaker vs "top speaker" --- what's the difference and the application for each? I'm thinking about skipping loudspeakers all together and just using something like the JBL PRX812W 1500W amps for the mains. 2 of them, one on top of each sub. My other thought was the JBL PRX825W as mains again on top of the subs.

4.) I can't fly the speakers, and don't want to, and not so sure I need to. Seems like too much liability. But dang I'm worried about my equipment getting banged up at these loud and rowdy shows. Can I put two subs and mains up front of the stage corners and ensure they don't hit the ground? Is there any recommended reading or tools to help secure these bettter? Im on a tight space so the crowd will most likely be right up on the speaker. Ratchet strap them to the wall? LOL. I guess I've been to a million rowdy shows and never seen a speaker hit the ground, but I've never paid close enough attention to how they do it.

5.) Cerwin Vega - what's your opinion on these CVI218S 2x18 subs vs the JBL PRX line? I'm a die-hard CV guy for home-audio (I personally think their old stuff sounds great, and call me crazy but I love heavy speakers). But, I'm well aware this isn't home audio and I've been hearing great stuff about the PRX line.

Thanks a bunch for any help.
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g'bye

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2017, 01:54:30 pm »

Stephen...

Before even getting into audio advice, it is incumbent upon responders to ask the more important questions regarding occupancy certificates, exits and fire suppression systems all OK'd by the Fire Marshall.  Then there's the liability insurance...

Are all those safety and liability ducks in a row?  That's the #1 priority.
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Scott Bolt

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2017, 05:09:58 pm »

I'm building out a small live music place in an old retail store. I've got two rooms both about 25' x 40' with 15' drop ceilings. We can fit about 75-100 people. I plan on only providing sound in one of the rooms so the other room could be used to "escape" the sound for conversations, etc. I'm really torn between a few things.

1.) Passive or Active or Both. I'm not scared of a passive system. I'm a fast learner with the time to dedicate to learn it. I also have support from folks I can lean on in the early stages. The system will rarely be moved. I guess this is opinionated, but thoughts that can help sway my decision?
I would vote active.  The reason would be that all the processing, amplification, and equalization is already done for you.  With modern powered speakers, you really do have to work at it to make them sound bad.
Quote
2.) I'm eyeballing the following components. (2) 15" or 18" subs roughly 2000W, (2) 1500W Mains, (4) performer monitors. Thinking about skimping slighly on monitor quality with budget focused more on sound for FOH. Bad idea? Are 2 subs enough? The sound will often include deep bass drops similar to that of dubstep, hip-hop, etc. Just calling out this isn't your standard Ozzy metal. If 2 subs aren't enough, that's too bad, because I can't afford more just yet. 2 Subs hurts my budget quite a bit. Can I get by with 1? This is an important part of our sound so I think not but looking for confirmation.
For this and many other questions you have posed, what is your budget?
Quote
3.) Loudspeaker vs "top speaker" --- what's the difference and the application for each? I'm thinking about skipping loudspeakers all together and just using something like the JBL PRX812W 1500W amps for the mains. 2 of them, one on top of each sub. My other thought was the JBL PRX825W as mains again on top of the subs.
One would hope that all the speakers you would get for such a venue would be "loud".  Top's or "Top Speakers" is a term used to describe the speakers that are typically put "on top" of subwoofer speakers, or "over" sub woofers.  The combination of all speakers used for amplifying out to the audience is referred to as the Front Of House speakers or FOH.
Quote
4.) I can't fly the speakers, and don't want to, and not so sure I need to. Seems like too much liability. But dang I'm worried about my equipment getting banged up at these loud and rowdy shows. Can I put two subs and mains up front of the stage corners and ensure they don't hit the ground? Is there any recommended reading or tools to help secure these bettter? Im on a tight space so the crowd will most likely be right up on the speaker. Ratchet strap them to the wall? LOL. I guess I've been to a million rowdy shows and never seen a speaker hit the ground, but I've never paid close enough attention to how they do it.
Valid concerns. 

For many clubs, you use 2 tops over 2 subs.  A pole connects the top over the sub.  With most speaker systems this is pretty darned secure.  It does take floor space though.  Another point to keep in mind is that the FOH speakers should be at least 4 feet in front of the front line of microphones to prevent feedback problems.  This further exasperates the floor area problem.
Quote
5.) Cerwin Vega - what's your opinion on these CVI218S 2x18 subs vs the JBL PRX line? I'm a die-hard CV guy for home-audio (I personally think their old stuff sounds great, and call me crazy but I love heavy speakers). But, I'm well aware this isn't home audio and I've been hearing great stuff about the PRX line.

Thanks a bunch for any help.
I haven't heard that particular sub.  I have heard the CV118 and the EL36 folded horns (owned both).  I also own a pair of PRX618S-XLF subs.  The CV's are much muddier while the PRX's hit harder and cleaner.  If you are playing metal or bass heavy DJ music, then quantity wins out over quality IMO.
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2017, 09:18:05 pm »

I have been thinking about your post 25x40 is just a bit bigger than my basement and is really along the lines of a practice space.  SRX's would be a huge waste of money in that venue.

With floor space at such a premium what is your objection to mounting the speaker(s) on the wall or suspending a center speaker from the ceiling (with a narrow pattern to keep the sound off the walls). 

In a case like this you are adding sound reinforcement, primarily of vocals and kick drum.  I would try and make a policy of no bass amps if you can.  Bass amps will muddy up your vocals so fast. 

SRX725's in that room would be simply unbearably loud, even for metal genre. 

Look at designing the system to provide vocal, bass and kick drum reinforcement duties.

As far as monitors, skimping is a bad idea.  If the performer can't hear themselves the performance suffers.  I would try and book acts that use in ear monitors.  Stage monitors in a room that small will bounce off the wall behind the band and be yet another source of competing energy to muddy up the sound.

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman
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Stephen Fairchild

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 12:08:39 am »

Thanks everyone for the responses.

Regarding safety and insurance measures, I'm working on that as well. Is this the appropriate forum to discuss those items? Because I do have problems. I do have 3 exits, 3 Fire extinguishers, marked doors, and have been to the fire dept 3 times. I'm begging the guy to come out.. maybe one day he's not busy he will ;). The insurance is not in place, but the shows haven't started either. I'm slightly new to this but not new to business so I'm doing my best to cross Ts, etc.

I think I pretty much have decided on active speakers. Just a note on the SRX series mentioned. I'd love to have those even though they are overkill but I'm actually not considering due to price. I apologize if I mispoke but the series in question I'd like is the PRX. A full grade down from SRX. Is the PRX still overkill with a few subs and 1500w mains? Can't I just turn down, but be prepared to scale up?

Bass amp ban - check. I like it. Hopefully it flies but I will give it a go. Direct line to the mixer.

In ear monitors - check. I like this too. I guess I'll round up some more cash and try to get a few of these.

I guess for budget I'd like to stick to $5000 for now. Give or take a thousand. I have a 16ch mixer and snake and sm58s lined up for about $800 of that budget. I also have a few stage monitors I was hoping to use, but they are crappy. I can't remember the name off hand, but not quality stuff. Based on the feedback here I'll need to update those, because it makes sense the performance would suffer and we can't have that obviously. So that will take a big toll on my budget. To the drawing board I guess....

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Scott Holtzman

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2017, 01:45:15 am »

Thanks everyone for the responses.
 I'm slightly new to this but not new to business so I'm doing my best to cross Ts, etc.


Don't forget to dot the "I's"

Quote
I think I pretty much have decided on active speakers. Just a note on the SRX series mentioned. I'd love to have those even though they are overkill but I'm actually not considering due to price. I apologize if I mispoke but the series in question I'd like is the PRX. A full grade down from SRX. Is the PRX still overkill with a few subs and 1500w mains? Can't I just turn down, but be prepared to scale up?
Well sure but to a certain point large speakers like the 725's with double 15's don't really come into there own until hitting a certain level.

I am against powered speakers in installs do the the serviceability issues.  Powered speakers are a convenience for portable work.
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In ear monitors - check. I like this too. I guess I'll round up some more cash and try to get a few of these.
IEM's are a personal item.  The artists should provide them.
Quote
I guess for budget I'd like to stick to $5000 for now.
I would look to the secondary market at that price point.  Where are you located?  A trusted person could help you navigate the used gear market.
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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman
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Stephen Fairchild

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2017, 09:39:54 am »

Don't forget to dot the "I's"
Well sure but to a certain point large speakers like the 725's with double 15's don't really come into there own until hitting a certain level.

I am against powered speakers in installs do the the serviceability issues.  Powered speakers are a convenience for portable work. IEM's are a personal item.  The artists should provide them.I would look to the secondary market at that price point.  Where are you located?  A trusted person could help you navigate the used gear market.


Thanks, Scott. I'm located in South Point, OH. The very southern tip of Ohio on the Kentucky and WV border.  I have definitely been scanning the local market and seeing a LOT of non-powered stuff. That's okay because I'd pull the trigger on that too, but the stuff seems really old and I can't make heads or tails of the quality. For example, these JBL subs: https://huntington.craigslist.org/msg/d/jbl-sr-2x15-trap-subs/6297125366.html. I came close to buying those last week, but I'm well aware there is a lot of worthless JBL stuff out there and I couldn't figure out which end of the spectrum these end up on. Same with other old used items, the specs aren't all widely available and without the speakers on review type sites it's hard for me to research. 
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2017, 06:12:22 pm »

In an area that small, a couple of good 12+ horn speakers will do fine.  The popular ones here are the Yamaha DSR and JBL SRX, but you're correct that Yamaha DSX or JBL PRX would probably be fine.  PRX single 18 or QSC single 18 subs would probably suffice.  My impression of metal is that a lot of articulation is needed in the bottom and then the 80-200 region is crowded so I'd go for quality rather than EDM like sub bass or sheer noise level.

Some acoustic treatment (NOT mattress foam) should be budgeted for.  It will go a long way to making a mid range sound system sound great.  Especially in a small room.

Also, don't skimp on monitors.  You'll need at least as much on stage as you have in tops out front and probably 2X is a good place to start.  Which means six PRX712s to start out with, 2 mains and 4 monitors.  In a small space like that the noise level will mud up pretty quickly and singers won't be able to hear themselves.  Particularly with a couple of rectum fryers behind them.
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Scott Bolt

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2017, 08:05:00 pm »

Scott, I was thinking the same thing (my basement is about that size too).

With that in mind, I have had my 3 way Klipsch with passive amps in this space as well as my DSR112's with PRX618S-XLF's in the same space.

The latter has a much better sound for bottom end for sure.

I do like the powered option better only because you will get the warranty with it.  I think you could get away with a single Yamaha DXS18 and a pair of DSR112's.  use the cross-over built into the DXS18.  Run your mixer output to the sub, run the outputs from the sub to each DSR112 and you are done.

That setup should just about blow away anyone in that space 2 times over.

I have had it pretty loud for parties in my basement.  Loud enough to shake the windows and vibrate items off of the shelves upstairs ;)
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Steve Garris

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2017, 09:46:44 pm »

I've mixed a hair metal band in a similar small room using my PRX system. It works perfectly and there's no need to spend more. I would fly the tops - they have fly points, but if not the speaker poles over the subs are a workable option. Move the subs around in different places to see how they respond in the room. I recommend a matched system for your mains.

Monitors are equally important. Look at the Yamaha DSR's, or DXR's if money is tight. I've heard great things about the smaller, 10" DXR's, and I'm planning on getting a couple for monitor duty.

Lastly, there's the Alto monitor wedge. It gets pretty good reviews as a vocal monitor, and the very small footprint is great for small stages. It might not be enough for loud bands with multiple things in the monitor mix:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?A=details&O=&Q=&ap=y&c3api=1876%2C%7Bcreative%7D%2C%7Bkeyword%7D&gclid=CjwKCAjw3f3NBRBPEiwAiiHxGB-GdLMUd_abEBHuO_fCUeUJc3iPXyV7BQV6nJ2hncVdP0VQI6J5-RoCE_MQAvD_BwE&is=REG&sku=928135
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2017, 01:31:27 am »

The good thing about the Alto's in a tight space is that the angle is really steep.  Meaning someone standing nearly on top of it gets the best sound.  I've used mine in a small bar with a loud band and I couldn't hear a pair of EV ZLX sitting right next to one Alto.

Vocals or midrange instruments only though.  No bass.  Which you don't want to muddy up such a small stage and room with anyway.  There will be enough all over the place.  If on a tight budget, they're probably the best bet.
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2017, 02:13:31 am »

The good thing about the Alto's in a tight space is that the angle is really steep.  Meaning someone standing nearly on top of it gets the best sound.  I've used mine in a small bar with a loud band and I couldn't hear a pair of EV ZLX sitting right next to one Alto.

Vocals or midrange instruments only though.  No bass.  Which you don't want to muddy up such a small stage and room with anyway.  There will be enough all over the place.  If on a tight budget, they're probably the best bet.

I have a bunch of the little Alto's.  They work great for many applications, however they are not loud enough to get over a drummer 2' behind them or a 6 piece horn section! 

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman
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Mike Sullivan

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2017, 02:58:39 am »


Thanks, Scott. I'm located in South Point, OH. The very southern tip of Ohio on the Kentucky and WV border.  I have definitely been scanning the local market and seeing a LOT of non-powered stuff. That's okay because I'd pull the trigger on that too, but the stuff seems really old and I can't make heads or tails of the quality. For example, these JBL subs: https://huntington.craigslist.org/msg/d/jbl-sr-2x15-trap-subs/6297125366.html. I came close to buying those last week, but I'm well aware there is a lot of worthless JBL stuff out there and I couldn't figure out which end of the spectrum these end up on. Same with other old used items, the specs aren't all widely available and without the speakers on review type sites it's hard for me to research.

Well hello there, fellow Tri-Stateian (Catlettsburg here) As far as that stuff on Craiglist, I know the guy that's selling his gear.. I'll talk to him and see if we can put you together a system, but don't count on it, trust me.

For metal in that small of a space, you would probably be better off just doing something strong for vocals, let the amps and drums run free.. maybe throw a little kick in if anything.  Personally I like having more than enough.. if your budget is there, then I definitely would go with the JBL SRX800's for mains, and maybe the PRX800 for wedges (the SRX812P takes up too much space as a floor monitor IMHO)

My buddy owns a set of SRX815's and a bunch of SRX828's, so if you're interested we could set up a demo sometime when the stars align.
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Geert Friedhof

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Re: PA system for small metal/hardcore DIY space
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2017, 05:02:00 am »

I want to throw the RCF HD32 mk4 in the mix. Nice big driver, plenty of loud, very little feedback. not expensive. They outrun my 8004 subs (1 a side). Never had one clip. I'm starting to wonder if the clip-leds aren't broken...
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