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Author Topic: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts  (Read 4480 times)

Stephen Kirby

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2018, 05:44:40 pm »

Yes, corner stages suck.  Everybody (who is not a drummer) seems to think that a drum kit lays out in a diamond shape.  Not true.  Between the high hat on one side and floor toms/cymbal stands on the other, along with access, it is roughly rectangular.  Also corners force the bass rig downstage of the drummer so all they hear is boom and it's difficult to lock in.  Another caveat on super dead stages.  This reminds me of Yoshi's Jazz Club in Oakland.  Great for soundpeople/producers, but real jazz musicians hate it and have basically stopped playing there.  I remember the drummer who played the opening night there complaining that he couldn't hear anything and the kit sounded like there was a blanket over it.  Watched Phil Woods' roll his eyes all night and Kenny Burrell kick a monitor over in frustration.  "Dead" recording studios have been ancient history for awhile, but I still see people advising venues to put all sorts of crap on the walls behind the musicians.  You want a balanced and even sound.  Some absorption up high on the back wall and a bit on the ceiling, but don't completely kill it.  I've played in front of carpet, foam and drapery covered walls.  One place has egg cartons and foam all over the back wall and drapes in front of that.  All that will succeed in doing is getting the drummer to pound the snot out of their kit trying to get some sound out of it.  Buddy Rich carried around sheets of plywood as he detested playing on carpeted stages.  The quickest way to incite an on stage volume war is to make it so that musicians can't hear themselves or each other.

What is the function of this venue.  A sit down concert place, or a dancing drinking establishment.  If it's be later, there's something I've noticed about all successful venues in that field.  Civilians don't want to be conspicuous.  I played in the disco era of the late '70s and some clubs had the bright idea to put dance floors up high in the middle of the room.  Regular folks don't want everyone watching them do their "Elaine dance".  These places got overrun by ballroom dance types who didn't drink and effectively shamed/chased out folks who would have.  Also, the layout needs to be conductive to inconspicuously circulating.  This allows folks to comfortably mingle, socialize, or make their play without being the center of attention.  I played for awhile in a large showroom where they cleared the lower level tables and tried to have a dance club.  Anyone who got up from their booth to go to another booth and ask for a dance was as conspicuous as someone going to the restroom at a comedy club.  The walk of shame back to their booth after a rejection pretty much emptied the venue over time and it was the death of many bands.  The most successful place I've played at had the band in the middle of the room, with sunken dance floors to either side and aisles and tables around that.  They had column speakers around the "stage".  Not a soundperson's dream, but the place was packed, year after year.
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George Friedman-Jimenez

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2018, 08:08:38 pm »

...  Another caveat on super dead stages.  This reminds me of Yoshi's Jazz Club in Oakland.  Great for soundpeople/producers, but real jazz musicians hate it and have basically stopped playing there.  I remember the drummer who played the opening night there complaining that he couldn't hear anything and the kit sounded like there was a blanket over it.  Watched Phil Woods' roll his eyes all night and Kenny Burrell kick a monitor over in frustration.  "Dead" recording studios have been ancient history for awhile, but I still see people advising venues to put all sorts of crap on the walls behind the musicians.  You want a balanced and even sound.  Some absorption up high on the back wall and a bit on the ceiling, but don't completely kill it.  I've played in front of carpet, foam and drapery covered walls.  One place has egg cartons and foam all over the back wall and drapes in front of that.  All that will succeed in doing is getting the drummer to pound the snot out of their kit trying to get some sound out of it.  Buddy Rich carried around sheets of plywood as he detested playing on carpeted stages.  The quickest way to incite an on stage volume war is to make it so that musicians can't hear themselves or each other...
Can't the dead stage effect be mostly overcome by monitors? As a conga player I usually prefer stages with less reflected sound, I find it easier to hear the direct sound from the other percussion instruments that I need to stay in time. I have never had trouble hearing my own instruments on stage. One reason I ask because I will be playing at Yoshi's next month and had not heard of this problem.
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Helge A Bentsen

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2018, 08:24:38 am »

Dead stages and a monitor mix for each musician is 9/10 times the preferred solution IMHO.
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Randy Pence

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2018, 11:03:47 am »

What is the function of this venue.  A sit down concert place, or a dancing drinking establishment.  If it's be later, there's something I've noticed about all successful venues in that field.  Civilians don't want to be conspicuous.  I played in the disco era of the late '70s and some clubs had the bright idea to put dance floors up high in the middle of the room.  Regular folks don't want everyone watching them do their "Elaine dance".  These places got overrun by ballroom dance types who didn't drink and effectively shamed/chased out folks who would have.  Also, the layout needs to be conductive to inconspicuously circulating.  This allows folks to comfortably mingle, socialize, or make their play without being the center of attention.  I played for awhile in a large showroom where they cleared the lower level tables and tried to have a dance club.  Anyone who got up from their booth to go to another booth and ask for a dance was as conspicuous as someone going to the restroom at a comedy club.  The walk of shame back to their booth after a rejection pretty much emptied the venue over time and it was the death of many bands.  The most successful place I've played at had the band in the middle of the room, with sunken dance floors to either side and aisles and tables around that.  They had column speakers around the "stage".  Not a soundperson's dream, but the place was packed, year after year.

A designer or architect with venue experience should absolutely be involved.
-For crowd flow, especially for dj events where there isnt a visual focus towards the stage as with bands, it is good to have a buffer zone just off the intended dancefloor. This allows for a bit more room to fill up should it get busier, and also create a natural path to walk AROUND the dancefloor, rather than through it, to get to the bar, toilet, place to sit, etc. If the events are only live gig and leaving, not as important, but the venue makes more money the longer the guests feel comfortable to stay for another drink. Dead ends are not as much fun to explore as loops.
-Make sure wardrobe is close to the entrance. Nobody wants to wander around with their coat. The worst designs I've seen are where one must walk through the dancefloor to get rid of their jacket.
-Every square meter is critical. Combine fire exit routes with backstage hallways (following firecode, of course) so you dont have useless space.
-Try to have drink storage directly accessible to the bar and not have to move supplies through the crowd. Bar-backing is hard enough work.
-Elevating the dancefloor is not a good idea, but singular elevated blocks for the more exhibitionist people to dance on is good.
-Avoid really long sightlines  unless you are sure it will always be full. It is more interesting to explore than see every bit of the venue at once, and if the event is not very full, you have to hide empty areas with darkness, which is not very comfortable, or guests will look around and think some other event/venue is more happening.
-If FOH is slightly elevated to ensure that the person mixing can make eye contact with the band, can the patrons hanging around FOH also see? Make sure the stage is high enough so the people in the back can see more than balding metal/rocker ponytails or hipster man-buns.
-Balconies are cool, but how does it connect to the rest of the room? Is it possible to smoothly close it off for private bookings or smaller events? Is it a fun adventure or annoying task to go between dancefloor and balcony? Less of an issue in such a size venue, but contributes to the interaction.
-slope surfaces you don't want people to knock drinks off of.
-You can never have too many bathroom stalls. Porcelain breaks. Stainless steel costs a lot more, but does not break.
-Any light switch the public can access will be turned on and off.
-Where will merch be sold?
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #24 on: October 22, 2018, 04:41:02 pm »

Dead stages and a monitor mix for each musician is 9/10 times the preferred solution IMHO.
For whom?  Again the nature of the entertainment comes into play.  Will it feature musicians who are used to static mixes in cans or IEM's or folks used to acoustic stages (not necessarily acoustic instruments but where the sound from live sources mixes together).  Most jazz and many other musicians used to smaller or midrange venues are used to hearing each other naturally.  Even watch Miles move around the stage?  Always wanting to hear different aspects of what is going on.  Maybe it doesn't matter to rock posers with one foot up on the wedge all night, but to some musicians it does.
This is what happens when the tail wags the dog.
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Michael Kofei

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2018, 09:13:21 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!

- Get the latest future proof best CAT 7 (that is compatible with Dante), BNC Video (for MADI) and some digital audio (AES/EBU) cables to install from FOH to stage, and make sure to have a nice robust panel on both ends.

- Avoid as much cables on stage as possible: install power outlets on the stage itself on key locations, as well as analog inputs/outputs and speaker outputs for monitors.

- Make sure the lighting rig is accessible, and when I say accessible I mean install ceiling hoists and a controller if possible. If not, just make sure the rig is somewhere the lighting tech can access it with a ladder.

- No stairs, truck-ramp-height stage access; And a place to store empty road cases.
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Tim Hite

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #26 on: October 25, 2018, 01:43:50 am »

Care to elaborate here Helge? What's the functionality and what type of switches?

I'm not visualizing it. . .


As a final touch, I wired the outputs from the Mackie in parallel to the house console and the PA inputs, so when I switch the PA to FOH mode (two switches on the wall, I think they cost me $2 each.) I can fade out/in the house music/DJ before and after the show.
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #27 on: October 25, 2018, 03:02:43 am »

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!

I just opened a small basement jazz club that I have been consulting on and did the system design for the past 3 years.

Here's what I recommend:

1: Make sue that you have enough budget to get all the speakers in all the areas that you need them to cover everything that needs to be covered. In my project I had two sets of out fill speakers to cover the sides of a long narrow room. One set got cut early on because of budget. Now that the venue is open and running, management is talking about putting those speakers back in because there are some dead spots that are not being covered by the rest of the PA system.  :-X

2: Go over to the John Sayers forums and start reading about acoustics and room design. Sayers is a studio designer, but the basics of room acoustics are the same. Make sure you know what the room is going to do acoustically with whatever architecture/acoustic plan the design team has. You need to be able to talk the lingo of the architects and be able to challenge them with proven, scientific data on what will happen if they do whatever it is they are planning.  Architects are morons who only care about how something looks as long as it meets fire code and structural engineering code.

3: Buy and read Bob McCathy's Sound Systems: Design and Optimization book, and then sign up for his class. You will learn more about sound system design, speaker choice and placement with that than any other resource there is. Follow his advice for coverage, and placement. Might be a good idea to buy and read Everest's Master Handbook of Acoustics too.

4: Make sure that the management has a solid plan in place for how they are going to staff the venue. And design/spec something that is at the appropriate level for the "engineers" who will be mixing or working in the room. You don't want to put in a Digico SD10 console when the operators don't understand basic signal flow or gain structure and can barely work a Mackie 1202 console.

5: Make double, extra, quadruple sure that you get the patch points and data and power connectivity where you need it. And make sure that it's on every set of drawings that goes out. My recent jazz club somehow managed to lose the FOH patch points on the house right wall that I speced. Even after going over it about a half a dozen times with the architects and electrical contractors. And now we have to use a jerry-rigged cable loom because the wall is rough stone. To that end, make sure that you know whee all the power, fire sprinklers, HVAC ducting and equipment, plumbing and lighting equipment is going to go also and that you don't have any audio gear there, or that the other stuff can be routed around your audio stuff if it's in a mission critical location.

6. Yes, corner stages suck. Don't do it. Also, don't make the room completely dead. But you have to make sure that you have the right absorption and reflection in the right places so that you don't end up with low end lobeing on or near the stage, or anywhere else really.

I would suggest installing a second room playback/background music system, if the room will be in use when there aren't shows, like for just eating drinking. That way the bar staff can turn it on and plugin in a tablet or CD and play it without having to turn on the main PA system, which the bar staff should never do.

Also, if your renovations aren't starting for a few months yet, I think you are about a year behind the ball on this one. Good luck catching up.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2018, 03:06:23 am by Justice C. Bigler »
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Justice C. Bigler
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Helge A Bentsen

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #28 on: October 25, 2018, 10:56:44 am »

Care to elaborate here Helge? What's the functionality and what type of switches?

I'm not visualizing it. . .

Itís two on-on 2x3-pole switches, one for each channel (L/R).

PA input is connected to the center taps, FOH mixer output in position 1, barmixer in position 2.
In position 1 I control the PA from the FOH desk and I have the bar mixer wired in on a free input so I can play bgm from the bar.

In position 2 the barmix has the PA and I can power down FOH and strike the stage.



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Tim Hite

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Re: New Venue: Dos & Don'ts
« Reply #29 on: October 25, 2018, 03:15:43 pm »

Ahhh, that's the part I was missing. Thanks.

Are you using a transformer isolated splitter to pull off the bar mixer, or will a y-cable work fine?


I have the bar mixer wired in on a free input so I can play bgm from the bar.

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Bad Quail
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