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Author Topic: Any rules of thumb for installing speakers in a box-type room?  (Read 5052 times)

Steven Welwood

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Hello all,

I have recently had some calls from schools asking me to recommend replacement mixers, mics, speakers, etc. in their aging gymnasium systems. Until now most of it has just been straight-across replacements.

The most recent one, however, will require that the speakers be relocated for various reasons. Since I've never had to choose a location for a permanent install, I was wondering if there are any rules of thumb that would help with determining the best location and aim. Most of the gyms I've been in (including this one) are close in size and layout, with two speakers mounted on the long wall.

For the horizontal mounting position (i.e. distance from end walls), is it better to split the target area in two and place a speaker in the center of each area (the blue speakers in the pic below), or should they be spread a bit further apart and aimed inwards to keep the sound off the side walls (the green speakers)?

For the vertical, I've pictured them at 18' high because that's how high the old ones are, but how should the best height be determined? Is there a certain percentage of the depth of the room that works best? I know the higher I go the more even the sound is through the depth of the room, but there must be a point of diminishing returns, right? The higher I go the more volume I'll need, and more volume is not what I want in a gym.

I normally try to aim the speakers close to the last row, but that doesn't work if there's a back wall close enough for bothersome reflections, besides overshooting the front few rows. I've tried to compromise between the coverage and getting the highs to the back row in the pic.

I know there are many more factors that will determine ideal placement and aiming, which is why I'm just asking for some general rules. I don't expect anyone to say my design will absolutely work. I'm just wondering if there's a reasonable chance that it could work.
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Steven Welwood

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Re: Any rules of thumb for installing speakers in a box-type room?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2016, 11:11:32 pm »

Side view
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Any rules of thumb for installing speakers in a box-type room?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2016, 07:25:36 am »

Are you stuck with just 2 speakers?

If not-I would put 1 wide coverage one in the middle, and then explode 2 smaller ones off to the sides to cover the seats left/right down front.

The center one will do the "heavy lifting", while the others are just fills.

The center speaker will also pull the image to the center-NOT to the sides (as speakers on the sides will do)

Generally (depending greatly on the room) you should get the speakers as high as possible (within reason and the seating area) and point the center axis at the rear seats.

Of course the BEST way is to actually model it.

That will give you your best idea of actual coverage.

In a gym, using speakers with large horns helps greatly to control the pattern-resulting in less energy bouncing around.

By having most of the energy going to the people-they are absorbing the 1st reflection, therefore reducing the reverb in the room.
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Ivan Beaver
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David Allred

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Re: Any rules of thumb for installing speakers in a box-type room?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2016, 07:56:29 am »

This is a gym?  Are there no bleachers?
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Steven Welwood

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Re: Any rules of thumb for installing speakers in a box-type room?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2016, 01:44:43 pm »

David, yes, this is an elementary/junior high school gym. Around here only high schools have bleachers--but even some of the smaller rural ones don't have them.

Ivan, sometimes 1 centre speaker would work. Other times there's a stage between the pair.

Quote
. . . get the speakers as high as possible (within reason and the seating area)

The "within reason" is what I'm wondering about. The pic shows the bottom of the speakers at 18', but it's a 28'ceiling. Should I put them all the way up (25 - 26')?

I tried a couple pieces of modelling software, but didn't like them. However, that was several years ago, so they've probably gotten better. Can you recommend a decent, simple modelling program that's not too expensive?

I'll keep the large horns in mind while I'm looking for speakers.
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Scott Carneval

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Re: Any rules of thumb for installing speakers in a box-type room?
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2016, 02:34:13 pm »


I tried a couple pieces of modelling software, but didn't like them. However, that was several years ago, so they've probably gotten better. Can you recommend a decent, simple modelling program that's not too expensive?

I'll keep the large horns in mind while I'm looking for speakers.

Danley Direct is free and pretty simple to use. The caveat is that it will only model with Danley speakers. The good news there is Danley makes some speakers that would work very well in your application.

EASE and EASE Jr. are both paid software, and have somewhat of a learning curve to them. The advantage is most manufacturers publish EASE data for their speakers, so you can model and compare just about anything using EASE.

You mention that you've never had experience choosing a location for speakers.  Do you have experience with rigging? Life safety is a major concern, especially when working around children.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Any rules of thumb for installing speakers in a box-type room?
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2016, 07:58:36 pm »



Ivan, sometimes 1 centre speaker would work. Other times there's a stage between the pair.


A stage in the middle is exactly where a center speaker would work best.

It pulls the focus towards the middle. Where-most likely-the people talking or performing would be.
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Ivan Beaver
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Steven Welwood

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Re: Any rules of thumb for installing speakers in a box-type room?
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2016, 06:54:09 pm »

Danley Direct is free and pretty simple to use. The caveat is that it will only model with Danley speakers. The good news there is Danley makes some speakers that would work very well in your application.

EASE and EASE Jr. are both paid software, and have somewhat of a learning curve to them. The advantage is most manufacturers publish EASE data for their speakers, so you can model and compare just about anything using EASE.

You mention that you've never had experience choosing a location for speakers.  Do you have experience with rigging? Life safety is a major concern, especially when working around children.

I never said I don't have experience choosing a location for speakers. You're taking my words out of context. I said I have never chosen speaker location for a permanent installation. There's a difference.

I always make sure to tell anyone that if there is any hanging or structural work to be done, I (or they) will have to bring someone in who is qualified for that type of work. While I don't have any classroom training, and would never present myself as anything close to an expert, for the last few years I have been working with someone who is trained and certified. During that time I have worked with rigging for lights and speakers, but always for event setups--never for installations.

Thanks for the software suggestions. Ease would be nice, but it's way out of my price range--for now at least. Danley Direct looks good. Too bad it doesn't model other brands, but not surprising.

A stage in the middle is exactly where a center speaker would work best.

It pulls the focus towards the middle. Where-most likely-the people talking or performing would be.

I agree, but most of the schools are on tight budgets (always an uphill battle), and they're more interested in clarity and coverage than localization. If it could be done for just a few hundred dollars more it would be feasible, but I don't think it would be worth any more that that to them.
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g'bye, Dick Rees

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Re: Any rules of thumb for installing speakers in a box-type room?
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2016, 07:30:51 pm »


I agree, but most of the schools are on tight budgets (always an uphill battle), and they're more interested in clarity and coverage than localization. If it could be done for just a few hundred dollars more it would be feasible, but I don't think it would be worth any more that that to them.

The proper single centered speaker should  give you the needed coverage and certainly will give more clarity.  The localization is a bonus.
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Steven Welwood

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Re: Any rules of thumb for installing speakers in a box-type room?
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2016, 08:10:46 pm »

The proper single centered speaker should  give you the needed coverage and certainly will give more clarity.  The localization is a bonus.

Yes, but that's in addition to the pair, so besides another box and mounting hardware, there's also another amp and another channel of EQ to add in--unless I'm misunderstanding Ivan's suggestion. This would add at least CA$1000-1500, and I can't see my clients spending that much more for what would be perceived as an incremental improvement. Even if the front/side fills were run from a single channel, the cost of the extra single speaker alone would be more than they would want to pay.
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