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Author Topic: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts  (Read 4488 times)

Peter Kowalczyk

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New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« on: October 17, 2018, 08:39:03 pm »

Hey All!  I have the dubious honor of consulting on the sound and lighting systems for a new music venue.  Lucky me, we're months away from beginning renovations, so I have the chance to influence the room itself, not just what goes into it. 

I thought it would be fun and informative to gather some wisdom from the experienced talent pool here on the LAB.  While our space will be more lounge-level (mods, please move if desired), I hoped to get input from the Pros...

...  What have you seen in fixed installs that worked very well?
...  What have you seen that makes you wonder what the hell the designers were thinking?
...  What do you WISH was in your venue to make your life easier?
...  What seemed like a good idea at the time, but didn't work out?

I'm wondering mostly about installed AC power and signal wiring; physical ergonomics such as stairs, ramps, and doorways; rigging for speakers and lights, monitor world and front of house layout, structural acoustic treatments, and all those things that can't readily be changed after the construction phase.  Lets not get into details about This Speaker or That Console...

What we are planning now; all subject to revision:
- approx 350 capacity
- corner stage (maybe?)
- Open-rafter, moderate-height ceiling (~12' at wall, sloping up to ~25 or more in center of room)
- VIP balcony area; pretty short throw from stage ( ~20')
- Flown Speaker system
- Low-ish ceiling (12') zone under balcony fitting roughly half those 350 patrons.

Many thanks for your thoughts!
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Lance Rectanus

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2018, 09:00:10 pm »


I'm wondering mostly about installed AC power ...

Just a thought while this is fresh in my mind. I was at a local church and the ambient spl was @50-55 dBa with the AC running. It was constantly running. Compared to my home church where the ambient with the AC on is 40-45. This made a huge difference during the quieter portions of the service. I know that you aren't doing a church, but I was surprised by just how much I focused on (or was distracted by) the AC noise.
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Steve Litscher

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2018, 10:00:46 pm »

My short list for venues:

- Dedicated parking within close proximity to load-in/load-out door(s)
- No stairs
- SOLID power with options: 5-6 dedicated 110v 20a circuits near stage, 50-amp 220v single phase receptacles, or easy tie-in options
- No corner stages
- Good space for FOH/lighting
- Staff and owners who appreciate the performers/crew

Rob Spence

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2018, 10:07:28 pm »

Just a thought while this is fresh in my mind. I was at a local church and the ambient spl was @50-55 dBa with the AC running. It was constantly running. Compared to my home church where the ambient with the AC on is 40-45. This made a huge difference during the quieter portions of the service. I know that you aren't doing a church, but I was surprised by just how much I focused on (or was distracted by) the AC noise.

I did a party once in a barrel roof room. My other guy was complaining that there was this hiss in the pa and we should fix it. I pointed out that the crowd noise was over 90dB and no one will hear it. But really? 90dB of ambient to get over.

So many venues want a live room which makes it tough to do live music.



Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
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Luke Geis

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2018, 10:09:17 pm »

Sounds much like a venue I used to manage the sound for.

If sound quality is the focus, then acoustic treatment is numero uno. The rafters can be used to place things that eat reflections and close the room back up. This can be great to make the sound of the PA be the sound that is heard. Walls that are fully exposed really make great reflection devises...... This hurts sound quality and curtains really help make a look and again make the room sound more acoustically dead! The performance space is equally important. Carpeted or at least a dampened floor can really help the band hear things better. The more acoustically dead the performance space is the easier it is to get the band to hear things clearly. Large open sounding spaces that have walls sound harsh and bad. You want it to be more like being outside in the middle of a field; dead with no acoustic reflections.

Aside from making a venue more acoustically dead or at least controlled, next would be making equipment and lighting quiet. A noise floor of 60db isn't the worst thing ever. A performance PA system should be easily 20db above that making a noise floor from most equipment a non-issue. I do agree that making it as quiet as practical is a good idea though. Just keep in mind that the patrons general yapping will drive the noise floor up well above the equipment noise.

In the venue I managed the PA for, I was challenged with a few acoustic deficiencies and I was limited in scope as to where I could put things and what I could do with things. I was more or less stuck with what I had and only replacing equipment as needed was an option. You get the chance to at least sort of clean slate this which will help. The one thing I wish I could have done more was acoustic treatment and more conventional deployment of the PA. Unfortunately for me, sight lines, layout, time and outright say and control were not in my cards.
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Dave Guilford

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2018, 10:37:07 pm »

If you donít have acoustic treatment, who cares about the rest?

But , in order of importance, things to consider AFTER ACOUSTIC TREATMENT:

power
Foh booth size / safety / build
stage build quality
Flat load in
Pa

Then everything else I guess.
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Scott Hofmann

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2018, 11:41:27 pm »

If I am picturing this correctly, with the stage in a corner, the ceiling will be 12' above the floor on one side of the stage and much higher (18'?) on the other side. Makes for a pretty asymmetrical stage lighting situation. If the stage platform is even 18" above the floor with a 6' person standing on it, you will also have a very short throw for top or backlighting fixtures near that side.

A corner stage always seems to waste upstage space and also create difficulties with access. You essentially have no ability to sidelight if desired at a later date. Also the stage is no longer either parallel or perpendicular to roof trusses for hanging lights or speakers.

Did I say that corner stages have a lot of disadvantages?
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Mark Cadwallader

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2018, 11:54:15 pm »

Unrelated to sound, but related to the facility:  make sure there is a janitor's closet nearby and at stage level if at all possible. Hauling a mop bucket up and down stairs is a PITA. Having a handy place to dump the catering ice after the show will save your back when you are already tired from the show and the out.

Locating the circuitbreakers for the stage area somewhere backstage (or the functional equivalent of backstage) where you can actually get to them (perhaps even during a show) The and where they won't be blocked by road cases, etc. is quite helpful. Label both the breakers and the recepticles served by the breaker.  A nearby master disconnect for the breaker box is nice, too.

Over-size the conduit/cable chase from FOH to the stage. It is way cheaper to do that than adding more later. Leave a pull rope in the conduit so you don't have to snake one in a couple of years later.  Conduit and cable is cheap compared to the labor to install it.

Best wishes for the new space.
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Bob Stone

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2018, 12:07:20 am »

- Enough outlets in the right places, 20 amp everywhere, 240v in standard plugs, big disconnects for 100-400 amp distros, three phase bonus
- Trench plate/cable tray/something to run additional cables from FOH to Stage easily
- Fly points already built in if the structure can support it (bonus if you can drop the lighting trusses down with the push of a button to change fixtures/bulbs/etc. instead of pulling out a ladder or genie)
- Fly as much as you can, gear will hold up better and cleans up sight lines/floor space.
- Good network, get wired in access points, lots of network drops and proper internet access...something with VLAN capability so you can segregate traffic.
- Decent backstage work space for load in/out, repairs, prep, staging, etc. and a non-public way to go from FOH to backstage! No fighting with punters when you need to run to stage.
- Two loading docks minimum, one truck level, one van level...all roll in/out.
- Separate BRIGHT work lighting that is on normal light switches in addition to stage lighting
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Erik Jerde

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2018, 01:07:06 am »

Isolated grounds for audio.
HVAC ductwork placement - is it somewhere thatís going to cause problems for FOH/Audio in general.
Architect measured properly (had one off by 10í once!)
Acoustic treatment fabric isnít reflective (dealing width this one now).
Shore power for tour bus.
Adequate storage for dead cases.
Work lights!
Gear is accessible - shouldnít have to climb a ladder, move a bunch of crap to troubleshoot during a show.  Exceptions for lights/pa/stuff that should/must be hung.  Otherwise if it can go on the ground it should.
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