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Portable System to be used in gym

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Kristian Stevenson:
We have a "contemporary" service that is thankfully growing so much that in a few months, we won't be able to fit in our current worship room. Our only other large room is the gym. Acoustically, it's a nightmare but its all we have for the space we need. We will be in the market for some portable speakers to use for this service. I don't have a budget yet, I'm just trying to figure out what it will take so I can know the figures when the time comes.

I am wanting to go powered to keep it simple for the volunteer setup/tear down crew. I was looking at 2 different setups and want some opinions: 2 QSC KW152's for the tops and 2 KW181's for the lows. OR 2 JBL PRX625M tops with 2 PRX618S-XLF bottoms. I have heard QSC's K10 which sounds quite impressive for such a small cab.

Music-wise, the service mainly consists of various vocalists, tracks/loops, keyboard, guitars, and bass guitar (no dedicated drummer yet). We will setup length way in the gym. It's a standard 50'x94' court. This rig will also be our "portable" system to be used outdoors so versatility is a must.

What do you guys think? Any other recommendations?

Frank DeWitt:
Re: Portable System to be used in gym I would test drive what ever you look at. Gyms are hard. We set up with two speakers that are a bit bright (lacking in base) and point them down court, but at an angle, not at the opposing wall. and as high as is safe on sticks.

Speaking of sticks, I would rather use non powered speakers. One less cord across the floor and up the stick. Less power cords running around. Easier to gaf tape to the floor.

And they are just a bit lighter.

In the end a powered speaker has two cords. An amp and speaker has 3 total but two of them are a lot shorter.

Brad Weber:
Kristian Stevenson wrote on Sat, 20 November 2010 20:23
What do you guys think? Any other recommendations?

Yep, try to fix or at least control the acoustical nightmare you noted.  Whether it's installed wall panels, baffles, banners and so on or temporary heavy drapery, often one of the best investments is to first try to tame the room.

Stephen L Gregory:
I am very interested to know whether you have made any decisions about your new PA.

We will be planting a church (<100 to start with) in a gym in Feb, and are thinking through the same issues.  For us, the key point is that everything has to go in and come out every week, so flying a centre cluster or treating the walls are not an option.  Maybe we need to invest in a big carpet, though!

My expectation is that the main problem will come from the bass.  I was thinking of sending v-drums and bass to a single head-high forward-facing monitor (Mackie TH15A?).  Maybe we'd get a better sound with them just out of FOH, but then they'd need monitors (= more stage noise as IEM is not an option at this point). I just hate to think what will happen if I let the bass player bring his 400W crate pointed at his knees...

Currently I'm thinking vox, keys and guitars going to two QSC K12s for FOH. Foldback only for keys and vox, kept as low as possible. Sincere exhortations to guitarists keep it down.

The KW152s that you mentioned are over 60 lbs, and I'd not be keen to be lifting them head-high each week.  Same for the JBLs, which also have a 90 degree spread that I'd be worrying about.
I'm looking for light actives that don't spread too wide, with the intention of minimising wall reflections.  Of course if you keep it off the walls you tend to get not-ideal overlap in the middle, but that's what aisles are for, right?  

Brad Weber:
Just remember that the pattern or "spread" of 60 degrees or 90 degrees is simply a nominal value where the overall level is 6dB down compared to on axis.  It is not exact and it will vary with frequency, in some cases varying greatly and typically having less control at lower frequencies that with physically small horns may extend well into the speech range.

Also keep in mind that speakers have a vertical pattern as well.  In a permanent install you can often gain multiple benefits by mounting the speaker higher and aiming it down toward listeners.  That may not be feasible when using a portable system and thus addressing the vertical pattern can be one of the challenges with portable systems.

I'm not real clear on what you plan for some of the system.  You mentioned K12s for FOH vox, keys and guitars but what about the electronic drums, the bass and the bottom end of the keys?  You also mentioned a single "foward-facing" monitor but which direction is forward in that case and would this be the only monitor?

In a more general context, how do you plan to configure the space?  Will you have a stage?  Where will it be located?  And while it would be significant extra work, why couldn't you use pipe and drape each week or even work with the other gym users to find some acoustical treatments that could be implemented?  And do you have all the power you need where you want it in order to support the powered speakers, the backline and the FOH mix location?


Kristian,

If you are setting up lengthwise, think about whether you really need stereo or speakers on each side of the stage.  I think people tend to default to speakers to either side of the stage just because it's what they see a lot but if you can't get good stereo for most of the listener area, the imaging and localization either aren't good or aren't that important or if it results in poor intelligibility, then why not consider a single speaker location?

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