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Author Topic: Help setting up a live sound/rental sound system  (Read 1221 times)

Paul Mann

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Help setting up a live sound/rental sound system
« on: September 21, 2022, 03:17:45 AM »

Hi all,

I currently have the following system:

Speakers:

2x JBL SRX725
2x JBL SRX728
2x JBL SRX715
2x JBL SRX718
2x JBL MRX512M (Looking for two to four more)

Amps:
2x Crown XTI4000
1x Crown I-T6000

Processor:
DBX Driverack PA+

Rack gear:
2x dual channel DBX Compressors
1x Stereo 31 band DBX EQ (Would get a couple more if I stay analog)

Mixer:
Mackie 1604 VLZ Pro

Snake:
20 channel XLR with 4 additional returns Rapco (50 Ft) - Probably need a longer one of these?

Mics:
3 sm57s and a Beta 52 in a Shure DMK drum mic kit package. (Looking to get 5 more used SM-57s)
3x Shure SM-81 Small Diaphragm Condenser mics
Looking to get 8 SM-58 wired mics (used)
Looking at buying a pair of shure pgxd24/sm58 (New or used)

Mic stands:
4 telescoping stands (Looking to get 4 more)
2 straight mic stands

Cables:
I have all the speakon and XLR patch cables I need for now.
Need to get like 12-16 good quality XLR Mic cables though
Also, should probably pic up a couple decent DI boxes

Transportation: is a Nissan Titan pickup with a King Cab and a 6 ft bed. It has a V8, so I'm thinking I could add a Trailer at some point. Additionally, the girlfriend has a mini SUV that's actually pretty roomy when you fold down the seats.

Experience: None in live sound. I used to be a mobile DJ for a few years a while back. In doing so, I found that I liked the equipment more than being in front of people. I did go through a year long audio engineering course at the local community college. Learned some mic placement, cable management, routing, recording fundamentals, mixing and using plugins in a DAW (Pro Tools), etc.

My goal: is to set up a system, learn how to run it, start renting it out and begin learning how to run live sound. I'm ok with working pro bono for a while (with a smaller rig of course) and plan to contact a few churches to see if they need help wrapping up cables and setting up mics etc. Maybe I can learn a few things from someone with experience or find a church that is in need and could use a newbie like me to at least get them started? Who knows. Hopefully, it's not a big issue that I'm not religious..

My thoughts on the FOH and Monitors - In order to run four monitors (4x MRX512m), I'm thinking I need to use both of the XTI4000s. This means I need to replace them with a new amp (Or a pair of amps). I was thinking about either getting a used I-T4000 and running it stereo or buying a pair of Crown XLS 2502s and running each of them bridged mono per top. I know the old I-tech amps are getting really old (Somehow I managed to get my hands on an I-T6000 with only 900 hours on it), but I did find an I-T4000 with around 7k hours for roughly $1,400. Similar to what the cost would be for a new pair of XLS 2505s.

My questions are:
1. Are the old I-tech amps too old at this point to be able to rely on? (Taking into account I'm brand new to this and this is my first rig. I've heard the saying "get good used gear instead of cheap new gear" a number of times during my research). 
2. Alternatively, do you think a bridged XLS 2505 (2400 Watts) per SRX725 would sound good, be reasonably loud, and be reliable? They would also be used bridged mono (1550 watts) for the SRX715s
3. If there are recommendations for other amps, I am ok with that. But, generally speaking, I'd like to stick with Crown if possible.
4. I'm thinking that swapping out for a digital mixer would be a good move. Remaining budget is limited ($4k left for everything I need to get me started). I was able to find a 24 channel Presonus Studiolive locally for about $1,000 (Haven't purchased yet). I know that this is also old. Is this a decent mixer for someone starting out? Open to other suggestions in this price range as well.

I'm open and curious as to any constructive criticisms, suggestions and recommendations that the community has on any topic related to this post.

I clearly when the passive route with my setup, so I'd like to stick with it for now. At some point, I'm not opposed to getting a pair or two of speakers like the ZLX12p for monitors or, way down the road, swapping to a completely powered system.

Thanks,
Paul
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Help setting up a live sound/rental sound system
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2022, 01:29:23 PM »

1. The speakers you have are great for small/medium gigs, albeit big and heavy to move around.  Properly powered you can entertain a group of 1000 pretty easily with the 725 over the 728's. You could either use the iTech 6000 on the subs and the iTech 4000 on each top, or vice versa.  I personally run a similar rig and I use all iTech 5000HD amps.  The speakers can take a little more, but with the iTech 5000, I can power from individual circuits if needed.  Bigger amps than that would need more than a standard 20 amp circuit and that can be hard to find in the portable gig world.

For smaller shows you could use the 715's over the 718's.  I actually use 712's over 718's for most of my small band gigs these days and it works great.

For mics, The SM57s and SM58's are kind of the defacto standard for entry level mics.  I rarely pull anything else out for small gigs.  Used mics I'd be a little leery of though, as you don't know their abuse history and they may then behave differently than if you just get a kit of new ones. The cost difference is minimal at best.

Don't waste your money on the PGX mics. That's a super entry level mic and you'll end up replacing it pretty quickly.  In fact, MOST of the small band type gigs I use, I use NO wireless mics.  Less wireless is less to go wrong.

Just say no to the old Presonus digital board. These have a reputation of reliability issues as they get older and were never a good digital board to begin with.  The 'standard' in entry level PA rigs these days is the X32 systems.  You can either get the full size X32, or one of the smaller compacts, or even the X32 rack.  For small jobs, you may not have space for a large console, so mixing on glass is what you'll end up doing.  Again, the X32 is where you're going to be.

Analog snakes are dead.  Digital snakes are the way to go.  With the X32 system, all you need is a proper cat 5 cable from FOH to your stagebox.  Way WAY easier to deal with.

If you get a proper digital board, you don't need any external processor.  I run right out of the X32 into the amps, using the processing available in the X32 as a sufficient solution especially for smaller rigs.

My little rigs consist of an X32 rack and 3 iTech 5000 amps. Typically, I use one amp for each side, 1 channel for top, one for sub, and then 2 channels of monitor mix.  This allows me to use an NL4 speaker cable instead of 2 speaker runs for the mains.   If I need more monitor mixes, I can bring in more amps or use powered speakers, but in reality, 2 mixes is usually sufficient, one across the front and one for the drummer.  Unless the budget calls for more, that's what you get.

I like having all IDENTICAL amplifiers for pure simplicity.  If I need to move stuff around, the option is there.  An iTech 5000 on monitor duty is MASSIVE overkill in most cases, but it's also a backup amp if one of the mains were to die.  It's nice to know that if I load an amp rack, the amps are all the same and I don't have to think too much about which one I'm putting in the truck.  Of course, you can spend less and have a smaller monitor amp, or get a 4 channel amp for monitors if you want smaller/lighter.  Older amps are much cheaper, but with age comes more risk that they'll give up the ghost at some point.  Having a spare - or a plan to re-patch is important. (also important with brand new gear because you never know...)

I usually avoid using bridged amps these days. Back when you couldn't get big enough amps, bridging was an alternative, but now you can get stuff big enough that it's usually not necessary and just means carrying more amps around.

The decision between passive speakers and powered speakers will get you pages and pages of discussion. There are benefits to each.  Powered speakers means not having to deal with amp racks, but does mean dealing with controls on the speakers themselves as well as having to run both power and signal cables.  It's also more of a hassle if you have an amp module failure in a powered speaker, as you would need to carry a full spare speaker with you to have redundancy against that.  I usually only use powered speakers for remote satellite speakers or for the smallest systems.  I despise powered speakers for monitors, as invariably a control on the speaker itself ends up getting adjusted and the only way then to fix it is to go on stage.  But, that's a personal thing.

Your budget of $4K might be a little tight to get all of the bits and pieces you would need to add for a live rig, but it's doable.  Don't forget the basics like proper power cables and power distribution.  No, cheap plastic cables from Home Depot don't cut it.  Code requirements for entertainment are more strict and if you're going to be a provider, do this right from the start, even though it seems expensive.  I still use the first 2 12 gauge power cords I bought back in 1989, so it's a life long investment if you do it properly.  Same thing with mic cords.  Get the good stuff and don't look back.

One thing I would budget for is proper cases and wheels for everything. Rubbermaid totes are cheap, but NOT fun to move around.  Having proper organization of your cables, connectors, mics, etc, really makes setup go much more smoothly, especially as you do more events.  Little things like having gaff tape, a tool kit, voltage meter, etc, always in the same spot is a life saver!  I typically roll in with a 5 drawer case that's perfectly organized with everything I need. Sure beats rummaging around a bin to find stuff.

U-haul trailers are pretty cheap to rent, and I'd strongly suggest that over beating up the interior of the girlfriend's SUV.

If you've never done this before, finding someone to tag along with to learn the ins and outs isn't a bad idea.  Don't expect to get rich doing this.  Often times the size jobs your rig can produce have artificially tiny budgets that have to pay the entire band plus the sound company.  Money DJing the same size gig requires way less work and doesn't get split 5 ways.  Doing a few free/cheap gigs on your own to get your feet wet is fine, but be careful about getting sucked into that market.  If you want to actually make money doing this, you either need to invest WAY more to be able to play with the big boys, or don't spend ANYTHING on equipment and find an company to work for instead.

Honestly, if you've never done live sound before, finding a company to work for is the best advice before buying anything else.  Learn how the business works, then decide if you want to play along or not.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Help setting up a live sound/rental sound system
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2022, 02:05:49 PM »

Look into the lunchbox style mixers.  You won't need a snake at all. Mixing is on an Ipad, which you would want with any digital mixer anyway.
If 20 xlr inputs is enough, the Soundcraft UI24 is a great choice, great sound, excellent app, full fx, etc.
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Paul Johnson

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Re: Help setting up a live sound/rental sound system
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2022, 02:39:25 PM »

Brian's advice was pretty much what I was going to say. The old speakers and amps have life in them, but the mixer just can't do what people expect now - lots of IEM or monitor mixes and even letting the band do their own monitor mixes via their phone - that kind of thing. The X32 has proven to be a solid bit of kit and second hand ones come up quite often. Just test for a few common things that pop up on road worked ones - knobs that don't adjust unless you press down on them, or faders that are a bit sticky. Sometimes the ribbon cable might work loose so a channel doesn't do anything - none of these things are hidden - you'd spot them straight away. It rarely happens to ones that live in flight cases, but wrapped up in a blanket and put in the back of a van, with things banging them????
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Mike Monte

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Re: Help setting up a live sound/rental sound system
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2022, 06:43:37 AM »

Hi all,

I currently have the following system:

Speakers:

2x JBL SRX725
2x JBL SRX728
2x JBL SRX715
2x JBL SRX718
2x JBL MRX512M (Looking for two to four more)

Amps:
2x Crown XTI4000
1x Crown I-T6000

Processor:
DBX Driverack PA+

Rack gear:
2x dual channel DBX Compressors
1x Stereo 31 band DBX EQ (Would get a couple more if I stay analog)

Mixer:
Mackie 1604 VLZ Pro

Snake:
20 channel XLR with 4 additional returns Rapco (50 Ft) - Probably need a longer one of these?

Mics:
3 sm57s and a Beta 52 in a Shure DMK drum mic kit package. (Looking to get 5 more used SM-57s)
3x Shure SM-81 Small Diaphragm Condenser mics
Looking to get 8 SM-58 wired mics (used)
Looking at buying a pair of shure pgxd24/sm58 (New or used)

Mic stands:
4 telescoping stands (Looking to get 4 more)
2 straight mic stands

Cables:
I have all the speakon and XLR patch cables I need for now.
Need to get like 12-16 good quality XLR Mic cables though
Also, should probably pic up a couple decent DI boxes

Transportation: is a Nissan Titan pickup with a King Cab and a 6 ft bed. It has a V8, so I'm thinking I could add a Trailer at some point. Additionally, the girlfriend has a mini SUV that's actually pretty roomy when you fold down the seats.

Experience: None in live sound. I used to be a mobile DJ for a few years a while back. In doing so, I found that I liked the equipment more than being in front of people. I did go through a year long audio engineering course at the local community college. Learned some mic placement, cable management, routing, recording fundamentals, mixing and using plugins in a DAW (Pro Tools), etc.

My goal: is to set up a system, learn how to run it, start renting it out and begin learning how to run live sound. I'm ok with working pro bono for a while (with a smaller rig of course) and plan to contact a few churches to see if they need help wrapping up cables and setting up mics etc. Maybe I can learn a few things from someone with experience or find a church that is in need and could use a newbie like me to at least get them started? Who knows. Hopefully, it's not a big issue that I'm not religious..

My thoughts on the FOH and Monitors - In order to run four monitors (4x MRX512m), I'm thinking I need to use both of the XTI4000s. This means I need to replace them with a new amp (Or a pair of amps). I was thinking about either getting a used I-T4000 and running it stereo or buying a pair of Crown XLS 2502s and running each of them bridged mono per top. I know the old I-tech amps are getting really old (Somehow I managed to get my hands on an I-T6000 with only 900 hours on it), but I did find an I-T4000 with around 7k hours for roughly $1,400. Similar to what the cost would be for a new pair of XLS 2505s.

My questions are:
1. Are the old I-tech amps too old at this point to be able to rely on? (Taking into account I'm brand new to this and this is my first rig. I've heard the saying "get good used gear instead of cheap new gear" a number of times during my research). 
2. Alternatively, do you think a bridged XLS 2505 (2400 Watts) per SRX725 would sound good, be reasonably loud, and be reliable? They would also be used bridged mono (1550 watts) for the SRX715s
3. If there are recommendations for other amps, I am ok with that. But, generally speaking, I'd like to stick with Crown if possible.
4. I'm thinking that swapping out for a digital mixer would be a good move. Remaining budget is limited ($4k left for everything I need to get me started). I was able to find a 24 channel Presonus Studiolive locally for about $1,000 (Haven't purchased yet). I know that this is also old. Is this a decent mixer for someone starting out? Open to other suggestions in this price range as well.

I'm open and curious as to any constructive criticisms, suggestions and recommendations that the community has on any topic related to this post.

I clearly when the passive route with my setup, so I'd like to stick with it for now. At some point, I'm not opposed to getting a pair or two of speakers like the ZLX12p for monitors or, way down the road, swapping to a completely powered system.

Thanks,
Paul
A little late to this thread but:
#1 learn to wrap cables properly
#2 older Crown amps (I have four XTI4000's & three original Itech's [two 6000's & one 8000] in my inventory)  All of them work well & continue to do so.  btw: The IT amps were returned (under warranty) to factory service to change the ribbon cables.  The XTI's: Crown mailed three ribbon cable/front panel assemblies to me and I swapped them out myself - very easy to do.
As a small-potatoes sound provider I rent/set up gear as you plan to do.
If you plan to dry-rent (client picks up/returns gear to you) your gear will take a beating so plan on dented speaker/mic grills, rat-nested cables, etc.

FWIW: There are only a couple of people that I dry-rent to, as I know that they will take care of my gear.

How about LIGHTS?
Lights seem to go with PA's these days so you will need something basic (two four-lamp LED trees minimum) to light-up a band/DJ.

Power: Black cords
Experience: tech'ing a band is way-different from DJ'ing a rig.  (I actually think that DJ's [at least the ones that I have worked with] are tougher on gear.)
Generally speaking one mid/hi cab over one sub per side will usually do it for a band (indoors) but I always double-up on the subs for DJ's......

Since you come from the DJ side, you will need experience tech'ing a band before you shop your rig around for $. 
Monitors/multiple mixes are the norn with bands and you do not want to "train-on-the-gig" or you will be in for a long night and bruised ego.
Find a local band that runs their own sound and help-out - you will start learning the ropes.
 
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: Help setting up a live sound/rental sound system
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2022, 08:29:35 PM »

What Mike M. said!!

Don't forget trouble shooting the system, power, hum, buzz, no input on a channel, ect.

Having a five piece band to get set up and sound checked, in time for the show start is not something you want to figure out how to do at the gig.

Think about starting with maybe duo acts and a small system for some shows at first.
Actually you may find the smaller shows have a better return on investment in the long run!
And the 1604 will have to go sooner than later, just what is expected these days.

ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Help setting up a live sound/rental sound system
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2022, 08:29:35 PM »


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