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Author Topic: Speaker Placement Help  (Read 8018 times)

Eddie Czubinski

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Speaker Placement Help
« on: January 16, 2011, 01:30:10 pm »

Hi guys!! I am in need of some help with speaker placement for a series of small one act plays that my school performs. We have the audience sit on stage so they are kind of in the action and I'm not really sure how to place the speakers. I have done it a few different ways in past years but never liked the sound. I have attached some pictures to show you how I have them placed but their is probably a better way. I have 4 speakers they are all Peaveys 2 of them are Impulse 200's and I'm not sure what the other 2 are. I do not have any speaker stands so they have to set on the floor. Let me know what you think.

The black is the acting area and the red is where the audience will be. This is just a rough sketch.

Thanks
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 01:32:57 pm by Eddie Czubinski »
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Blake Ross

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2011, 05:57:30 pm »

Hi, it would be helpful to know what the other speakers are, what size the stage is as well as the black and red areas, what mics you are using, what processing,  if there is music playback and singing or only spoken word, how many people have mics on stage at one time, are the audience seated in chairs or on the floor, how large is the audience and any other relevant information you can provide. The simplest solution, if this is an intimate audience, is to go without sound reinforcement and get your performers to speak up. Your current speaker deployment will have coverage problems and GBF issues as the speakers are aimed right at the performers (and their mics), and only certain parts of the audience, so some people will have too much SPL and others not enough.
I'm sure there are people in the forum with a lot more experience than me that will chime in if you give them some more information to work with.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2011, 06:18:10 pm »

What is the purpose of the speakers, do the actors have microphones or are the speakers purely for EFX and music playback?  Is the localization of the sound or where it appears to come from important to getting the desired perception for the audience?  Is the audience, like the speakers, sitting on the floor or do they get something to sit on?
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Eddie Czubinski

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2011, 09:07:09 pm »

What is the purpose of the speakers, do the actors have microphones or are the speakers purely for EFX and music playback?  Is the localization of the sound or where it appears to come from important to getting the desired perception for the audience?  Is the audience, like the speakers, sitting on the floor or do they get something to sit on?

The speakers are purely for FX and music and a few voiceovers. The actors will NOT have mics. The audience will be sitting in chairs. The audience does not need to have stereo imaging or anything it just needs to be covered so everyone can hear. Their is no eq on the speakers. They are being powered by a Peavey CS-800x. Everything is being run through a Yamaha mixer.

I think the other speakers are Peavey SP-2 the ones from the 70s or 80s NOT the current production ones.

I have attached a picture to give you a better idea of the size.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 10:38:07 pm by Eddie Czubinski »
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Gene Hardage

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2011, 10:50:29 am »

Do you have enough speaker wires to separate the 4 speakers and put them more or less in all 4 corners facing in?   Maybe even put a shim under them to have them tilt upward a bit.  If your soundtrack is OK as mono then try balancing the volume of each pair by putting 2 of the same kind on each half of the power amp.  Use the board to balance the the volume of each pair  - not the power amp knobs.
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Blake Ross

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2011, 12:46:33 pm »

Do you have room onstage to incorporate the speakers as scenery or props, and have them situated and tilted up to fire into the audience?
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Brad Weber

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2011, 01:32:50 pm »

Do you have enough speaker wires to separate the 4 speakers and put them more or less in all 4 corners facing in?   Maybe even put a shim under them to have them tilt upward a bit.  If your soundtrack is OK as mono then try balancing the volume of each pair by putting 2 of the same kind on each half of the power amp.  Use the board to balance the the volume of each pair  - not the power amp knobs.
The Impulse 200 speakers have mounting points on the top of the cabinet intended for use with the Peavey Versamount 70 but that probably could be used for flying with other hardware.  I have not looked at the dimensions involved and the resulting coverage but since you are on stage I have to wonder if flying those two speakers (not the SP2 as they have no flying provisions) might be an option.

All four speakers are nominal 90 degree horizontal and 40-50 degree vertical patterns, although being compact horns that only applies starting at somewhere around 1.5kHz and the pattern varies with frequency.  But with that 90 degree pattern then to cover the audience the the speakers would have to be at the back edge of or behind the audience, which puts the source behind the listeners.  Being on the floor would mean the speakers being blocked by those seated in the back rows while one speaker in each corner would mean many people getting some sound from multiple speakers with varying arrival times and levels.  Neither seems to do much for intelligibility or for being part of the performance unless being used as more of an immersive effect than being related to what is happening on stage.  But if you can't fly the speakers or work them into the stage area then that may be all that you can do.
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Eddie Czubinski

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2011, 10:17:07 pm »

Putting them in all four corners in out. I did that last year and people were tripping over them, their is not that much room. Flying them is out because we don't have the proper equipment to fly them. What I did is I faced the two on top straight in at the front section of sets (the side the speakers are on) and I aimed the bottom ones at opposite corners and that seemed to be OK. It could be better but it will work. The front section will just be a bit louder because I don't have enough speaker wire to run the top and bottoms on separate channels. Right now the top and bottom are wired in parallel (in one and out of the same one to the other). If I had longer cords I would connect the tops to one side of the amp and the bottoms to the other so I could lower the volume on the first section of seats. I'll post some pics of the actual set up tomorrow but I think this setup is going to have to work, everything has to be ready to go for this coming Sunday.
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Alex Lusht

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2011, 11:58:00 am »

Hey,
If the speakers a just for sound cues and voice over, have you thought about using a bunch of small studio type monitors?  I've done some theater shows for about 100 people in a space about that size where I used four Mackie HR 824s and a sub from a home theater system.  Since the speakers are small, I was able to place them in unconventional spots (in the set) and in the room and get great sound, great coverage, and no one was really able to tell where all the sound was coming from!  So something like that could work......Just a thought!
PEACE,
Alex
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2011, 12:06:00 pm »

Hey,
If the speakers a just for sound cues and voice over, have you thought about using a bunch of small studio type monitors?  I've done some theater shows for about 100 people in a space about that size where I used four Mackie HR 824s and a sub from a home theater system.  Since the speakers are small, I was able to place them in unconventional spots (in the set) and in the room and get great sound, great coverage, and no one was really able to tell where all the sound was coming from!  So something like that could work......Just a thought!
PEACE,
Alex

Generally in a theater sound effect context it is important that the audience can tell where the sound is coming from, and it should be coming from where the motivation for the SFX is. If there is a radio playing on a table, the speaker should be placed so the sound seems to come from the radio, offstage right entrance doorbell, offstage right speaker etc.

Mac
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Alex Lusht

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2011, 12:54:17 pm »

WOW MAC you really just don't read the posts do you.
The show is IN THE ROUND.  There is audience ALL AROUND THE ACTION. There is no relative direction of the sound.
Eddie,
Think outside the box!
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Brad Weber

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2011, 12:55:56 pm »

Generally in a theater sound effect context it is important that the audience can tell where the sound is coming from, and it should be coming from where the motivation for the SFX is. If there is a radio playing on a table, the speaker should be placed so the sound seems to come from the radio, offstage right entrance doorbell, offstage right speaker etc.
So since this appears to be an "in the round" situation, some dodecs on stage?  :)

Seriously, part of 'selling' what is happening to the audience is the localization of the sound source but in some cases that addresses both the location and the frequency based pattern of both the natural source and the reproducing source.  For example, in reality a radio on the table would likely sound different to someone sitting in front of it compared to someone behind it, which might be relevant when the audience is all around the stage.  A typical speaker aimed to match the axis of the radio may somewhat naturally recreate that off-axis response.  However, some other sources you try to reproduce may be aimed in other directions or have very different polar responses, thus that same speaker may not work as well for them.

You can also get into wavefront synthesis to make sources appear to be coming from different locations including outside the physical confines of the theatre space.  It all comes down to what is practical for the application.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 01:37:59 pm by Brad Weber »
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Jay Barracato

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2011, 01:15:30 pm »

WOW MAC you really just don't read the posts do you.
The show is IN THE ROUND.  There is audience ALL AROUND THE ACTION. There is no relative direction of the sound.
Eddie,
Think outside the box!

Wow, two threads and two swings with misses.

Why would being in the round eliminate the directionality of sound effects? If the action is not dead center of the circle, it appears in a direction to the audience. That direction might be a different relative position for each member, but it is still a direction.
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Jay Barracato

Alex Lusht

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2011, 01:34:21 pm »

Sorry,
I didn't mean to get anyone upset.....My apologies to MAC....and anyone else I may have offended.

And, of course, "directionality" can be very important to the narrative.  I assumed... yup I know what that can do.... that the general goal here was to provide the audience with even coverage for this unique set up.  The previous attempt hadn't worked as well as perhaps a different set up might.  And, since space seems to be at a premium, when isn't it, the possibility of a "surround sound" set up with smaller monitors could create some real theater magic! 

So, what might be a cool approach is to use a kind of surround sound approach. Not knowing what the actual set looks like...... I suggest, it is possible, that one could set 4 "studio monitors" on the stage set somewhere, face them in the appropriate direction, and even dress them to blend in, and send each its own mix, like you would if they were "band monitors" using the aux sends on the board.  You could then send what ever signal you'd like to any of the speakers, creating some "real theater magic".

This has worked well for me, it might work for someone else as well.
 
And again, sorry to come in "swinging".  Just tryin to help my "brothers of the brush", if you will.  Many path lead us through this forest, I'd like to walk them with you, not against you!
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2011, 02:09:00 pm »

So since this appears to be an "in the round" situation, some dodecs on stage?  :)

Seriously, part of 'selling' what is happening to the audience is the localization of the sound source but in some cases that addresses both the location and the frequency based pattern of both the natural source and the reproducing source.  For example, in reality a radio on the table would likely sound different to someone sitting in front of it compared to someone behind it, which might be relevant when the audience is all around the stage.  A typical speaker aimed to match the axis of the radio may somewhat naturally recreate that off-axis response.  However, some other sources you try to reproduce may be aimed in other directions or have very different polar responses, thus that same speaker may not work as well for them.

You can also get into wavefront synthesis to make sources appear to be coming from different locations including outside the physical confines of the theatre space.  It all comes down to what is practical for the application.

I don't think being in the round changes how you use speaker placement for SFX localization. It may make it harder to hide speakers and their cables, but the localization still comes from the speaker. Using multispeaker "surround" mixing is not likely to be able to localize the sound for all of a surround audience the same.

Sometimes there are sound effects that do not need to have localization, certain background sounds come to mind, or music underscoring, but effects that have a narrative motivation, such as radios, door slams, telephone rings etc are best handled with localized speakers, in the round, on a thrust, or with traditional proscenium staging.

Any artistic decision in the theater eventually is given the thumbs up or down by the director, but in more that 35 years of creating and playing back sound effects for theater, ranging from college productions in 1970 to commercial theater in NY starting in 1972, through the last theater production I was involved with Passing Strange speaker localization has played an important part.

Mac
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Eddie Czubinski

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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2011, 10:23:29 pm »

I understand that the FX should be localized, but we have never done a play or musical where the FX were because even when we use are regular auditorium seating the PA is only mono. Why is it mono? Apparently a while back they sacrificed stereo for better speaker coverage.

Since we only have 4 speakers to work with and since this Sunday is our "tech Sunday" where we do a dry tech run followed by a dress rehearsal. So it is pretty much set in stone. Since our One Acts, which is what this is for, is mainly a show to raise money we keep all costs as low as possible so we can go bigger on the spring musical. So renting better equipment is out.   
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Re: Speaker Placement Help
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2011, 10:23:29 pm »


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