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Author Topic: Help sizing new speakers  (Read 6353 times)

Jeff Lelko

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Help sizing new speakers
« on: September 25, 2017, 04:19:20 pm »

Hi all,

So similar to the thread I just started about looking for mixer suggestions, I’m also trying to size a sound system for eventual purchase and use within my company.  I want to make it clear right away that this purchase is likely 1-3 years out, but I’d like to get a rough idea of what’s needed (and what it’ll cost) right now so that I can allocate funding appropriately over the next few years to make it all happen (both a new mixer and new speakers).  As mentioned in my mixer thread, the majority of my work is corporate and municipal in nature, so mostly vocal with some filler music, usually crowds in the neighborhood of 1000 people.  Up until now I’ve gotten by just fine with my QSC HPR rig and it continues to work flawlessly.  That said, more times than not I’m pushing the system to its limit with some of these larger outdoor events. 

Below is a picture of the venue I’d like to size this rig to.  I’m able to maintain SPLs here in the 90-95dBA range measured about 75ft back from the stage, but that’s just with music playback.  My clients are happy with the rig’s performance but I’d like to have more headroom to accommodate a larger dynamic range when working with live acts.  To those playing jobs at this level and higher, what would you bring to serve an event here, assuming a crowd in the 1-3000 range and a live band?  How would you change that rig (if at all) for a speech-only event?



Beyond the vague description above, I don’t have any hard “requirements” for the system.  It does need to “look” professional as my jobs are most corporate in nature.  Vocal intelligibility is a must.  Ideally nothing massive, but I understand that this comes with the territory.  Movable by two people would be nice – movable by one person would be excellent.  This stage in particular has 400A service, so power isn’t an issue but still the more efficient the better.  I don’t want to specify a budget – I’m more interested in what it would take to do these types of jobs correctly here and go from there.  Given that my QSC rig is “good enough” for every client I’ve worked with so far at this location (and honestly I always get compliments on the sound quality despite the rig running almost full-open), am I maybe overthinking it?  Would a Danley SM80/TH118 rig be plenty?  I also know both JTR and RCF make some applicable products.  I’m also quite interested in the Danley Exodus Series, though haven’t seen nor requested any specs yet.  For full disclosure as well, I still have the most to learn with sound when compared to other areas of the industry such as lighting and pyro, so any discussion and guidance would also be appreciated in addition to recommendations for equipment.  The reason for this purchase would be to both replace an aging system (9 years and counting) as well as to expand the upper end of the jobs I can play.  Really just looking to determine what my needs truly are, how much it would cost if sized within reason, and a short list of systems to audition/demo over the next year or so. 

Thanks again for the help!
-Jeff     
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Robert Piascik

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Re: Help sizing new speakers
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2017, 04:28:57 pm »

This is all too vague to be very specific (and as fast as the equipment is improving, 1-3 yrs from now could have some great new offerings). I am very familiar with a Danley SM80/TH118 set up 2 tops and 4 subs and **depending on how loud you want it** that rig would be too small to cover 200' out. Will it make sound? Yes. Will you hear it 200' out? Yes. But you probably need more horsepower if you expect up to 3000 ppl. Danley makes plenty of great, and bigger, speakers that could cover this area but not knowing the nature of your acts here, my vote is that you need something bigger. That said, if you're covering the space with QSC HPR I think the Danley rig above is a nice step up.

Is that vague enough for you?

Cheers!

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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Help sizing new speakers
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2017, 04:37:05 pm »

The difference between music and speech is duty cycle and amount of LF content.

The old Atlas re-entrant horns are a good example; if you can live with a bandwidth of ~300Hz-3kHz (telephone) and long term power handling of 30W, they'll cover some distance with reasonable intelligibility and probably last forever.

I presume 1) you need to cover 160° horizontal and get sound under those perimeter trees (audience shade), otherwise it's easier...  2) that you have some specific SPL target in mind and 3) that the folks further away need to understand speech but don't necessarily want to be part of the music party.

Are we on target?
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Help sizing new speakers
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2017, 06:44:42 pm »

Is that vague enough for you?

Thanks Robert, I do get what you're saying!  I'm trying not to be too vague yet not give requirements that I don't fully realize or understand!  I totally understand that we might see some great new products over the next few years.  That's why I'm not trying to spec out an exact system per say...more just try to see where things would fall in terms of price, logistics, etc. to play this venue to proper standards when the time comes to retire my HPRs.  That way I can start to budget for such an investment and/or see if moving up to the 3000ppl capability level is even feasible right now.  To put it in other words, I understand that my QSC boxes won't last forever and given the work I'm picking up, I'm trying to see what the investment would be to size-up to such a rig...or if I should just keep playing along with more boxes of the same size/style/capability as what I currently have, understanding that I'd have to live within the same limits as I do with my existing rig.  I agree that even if an SM80/TH118 rig still isn't up to the task of playing this venue with very high SPLs it'd still be a nice upgrade from my current rig.  I'm just trying to make any upgrade I pursue really count - get the best bang to buck and be worth the investment.  Hope that helps to clear things up!

The difference between music and speech is duty cycle and amount of LF content.

The old Atlas re-entrant horns are a good example; if you can live with a bandwidth of ~300Hz-3kHz (telephone) and long term power handling of 30W, they'll cover some distance with reasonable intelligibility and probably last forever.

I presume 1) you need to cover 160° horizontal and get sound under those perimeter trees (audience shade), otherwise it's easier...  2) that you have some specific SPL target in mind and 3) that the folks further away need to understand speech but don't necessarily want to be part of the music party.

Are we on target?

Thanks Tim.  Yes, we're very much on target with your assumptions. 

1)  I can live with a tighter width on the boxes if need be.  Right now I use my 152s and their 90 degree width for the "straight on" part of the field and supplement with my 122s to fill the sides.  Depending on the gig I'll occasionally put another pair of 122s further back to act as delays.  Try not to laugh.  I wouldn't call it pretty but it gets the job done and keeps my clients happy.  I've seen this venue played with everything from Mackie SRM450s to flown arrays and everything in between.  I'm definitely an in-betweener here!

2)  It's hard for me to nail down a specific SPL.  For instance, I played a job there this past Saturday and kept volumes right around 88-91dbA at the 75ft point.  The client was so happy I wasn't "blasting away with my music".  I do go a bit louder for the speech parts but I'm not hitting anything over 100dbA at that 75ft mark.  It'd be nice to have that capability if I start to take on live music events here though, hence why I'm curious what that'd take. 

3)  Yep, spot-on with that one.  The peeps in the vendor and sponsor tents that usually go up around the perimeter need to be able to hear the announcements, ceremonies, etc., but not be so overcome by sound that they can't do business. 

Thanks again!
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Tony Stubbs

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Re: Help sizing new speakers
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2017, 10:49:59 pm »

You don't need anything special!  I have done many gigs at this venue (Cocoa Village).  Where you are setting your console is in the fountain, (hope they dont turn it on) LOL anyway being that its a concrete stage roughly 3 feet high set your subs and tops on the stage, that will give you  some help opposed to setting them on the ground.  I have run two TX9s and 3 QRX 153/75s a side and have measured 95db at the river. Don't count on the roof protecting your gear during a rainstorm, its too high and only covers part of the stage. Unless they have changed it. there use to be a 200amp cam lok set at the bottom of the panel on the southwest column. Load in is from the alley and again unless they have made changes you could drive truck and trailer right up on the stage for loadin and out.  The wind can become an issue here when storms roll in, off the river, so strap your tops to your subs. and other gear down, If you need additional help just ask.

Hi all,

So similar to the thread I just started about looking for mixer suggestions, I’m also trying to size a sound system for eventual purchase and use within my company.  I want to make it clear right away that this purchase is likely 1-3 years out, but I’d like to get a rough idea of what’s needed (and what it’ll cost) right now so that I can allocate funding appropriately over the next few years to make it all happen (both a new mixer and new speakers).  As mentioned in my mixer thread, the majority of my work is corporate and municipal in nature, so mostly vocal with some filler music, usually crowds in the neighborhood of 1000 people.  Up until now I’ve gotten by just fine with my QSC HPR rig and it continues to work flawlessly.  That said, more times than not I’m pushing the system to its limit with some of these larger outdoor events. 

Below is a picture of the venue I’d like to size this rig to.  I’m able to maintain SPLs here in the 90-95dBA range measured about 75ft back from the stage, but that’s just with music playback.  My clients are happy with the rig’s performance but I’d like to have more headroom to accommodate a larger dynamic range when working with live acts.  To those playing jobs at this level and higher, what would you bring to serve an event here, assuming a crowd in the 1-3000 range and a live band?  How would you change that rig (if at all) for a speech-only event?



Beyond the vague description above, I don’t have any hard “requirements” for the system.  It does need to “look” professional as my jobs are most corporate in nature.  Vocal intelligibility is a must.  Ideally nothing massive, but I understand that this comes with the territory.  Movable by two people would be nice – movable by one person would be excellent.  This stage in particular has 400A service, so power isn’t an issue but still the more efficient the better.  I don’t want to specify a budget – I’m more interested in what it would take to do these types of jobs correctly here and go from there.  Given that my QSC rig is “good enough” for every client I’ve worked with so far at this location (and honestly I always get compliments on the sound quality despite the rig running almost full-open), am I maybe overthinking it?  Would a Danley SM80/TH118 rig be plenty?  I also know both JTR and RCF make some applicable products.  I’m also quite interested in the Danley Exodus Series, though haven’t seen nor requested any specs yet.  For full disclosure as well, I still have the most to learn with sound when compared to other areas of the industry such as lighting and pyro, so any discussion and guidance would also be appreciated in addition to recommendations for equipment.  The reason for this purchase would be to both replace an aging system (9 years and counting) as well as to expand the upper end of the jobs I can play.  Really just looking to determine what my needs truly are, how much it would cost if sized within reason, and a short list of systems to audition/demo over the next year or so. 

Thanks again for the help!
-Jeff   
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: Help sizing new speakers
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2017, 11:30:11 pm »

I have no clue what the deployment issues could be but maybe think of a system with delay fills. The fill could get just a mix of the MC mic and maybe some low level music program. That way people along the back can still the announcements with out the need of the main PA needing to throw the full distance.
Wireless audio feeds to powered fill speakers maybe something to look at.

The main PA at the stage would also have the MC mic in it as well.

Make your new PA scalable and not just a one trick pony.

Mal Brown

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Re: Help sizing new speakers
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2017, 01:07:24 am »

Those QSC boxes rent really well too!  At least mine do...

Peter Morris's DIY boxes now with flat packs available look real interesting.  I personally would sub the construction of the carcas out and finish the box myself...

JTR's Noesis look sinteresting as well...  there are probably others out there to look at.

I wouldn't rule out some older boxes that could come from a regional sound company's inventory.  There are some great EAW, Renkus and other boxes out there that are taken out of service as they don't fly easily, don't fill rider demands, aren't sexy, etc...   They still sound great in the hands of an operator with great ears though...
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Help sizing new speakers
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2017, 01:14:26 am »

Those QSC boxes rent really well too!  At least mine do...

Peter Morris's DIY boxes now with flat packs available look real interesting.  I personally would sub the construction of the carcas out and finish the box myself...

JTR's Noesis look sinteresting as well...  there are probably others out there to look at.

I wouldn't rule out some older boxes that could come from a regional sound company's inventory.  There are some great EAW, Renkus and other boxes out there that are taken out of service as they don't fly easily, don't fill rider demands, aren't sexy, etc...   They still sound great in the hands of an operator with great ears though...

I sound like a broken record but I will chime in here too that the QSC KW's may not be the sexiest boxes but they are always out and have an amazing service history.  We have bought new (thanks to Mike Pyle) and used, both do us well.

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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Help sizing new speakers
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2017, 06:32:28 pm »

You don't need anything special!  I have done many gigs at this venue (Cocoa Village). 

Thanks Tony.  I actually work shows at this venue 6-10 times a year and have for the past several years so I'm quite familiar with it.  Been there rain and shine, for sound and lights, night and day, fountain on and fountain off...  In fact, I just played a job there this past Saturday and will be back in a few weeks!

I have no clue what the deployment issues could be but maybe think of a system with delay fills. The fill could get just a mix of the MC mic and maybe some low level music program. That way people along the back can still the announcements with out the need of the main PA needing to throw the full distance.
Wireless audio feeds to powered fill speakers maybe something to look at.

The main PA at the stage would also have the MC mic in it as well.

Make your new PA scalable and not just a one trick pony.

Delays have been one of the tricks I use to fill the backfield without blasting away the people near the stage or pushing the mains too hard.  I'm not opposed to continuing to do that either. 

I sound like a broken record but I will chime in here too that the QSC KW's may not be the sexiest boxes but they are always out and have an amazing service history.  We have bought new (thanks to Mike Pyle) and used, both do us well.

Thanks Scott, and that's pretty much the crux of this thread.  My HPRs have served me quite well.  I'd agree that products of this type are some of the most versatile and profitable available.  Not even since day one have I questioned their worth to my company!  That's why I'm curious what it'd take to play this venue "right", as in how much such a rig would cost and what all it can do, or is it better to replace what I currently have with more of the same or similar...maybe a slight step up.  I'm this and similar venues often enough with plenty of growth potential to justify considering the investment.  I just need to determine what that is first to figure out the business end of it!   

So looking to a few other products or types of systems, what would be a more fitting Danley rig be if the SM80/TH118 won't cut it?  Would the RCF TTL6-A and something from the SUB Series be worth a look?

Thanks again!
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kel mcguire

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Re: Help sizing new speakers
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2017, 08:17:07 pm »

I can't seem to let myself get rid of my HPR rig; four HPR181 and two 153 . It just always works, but it's not loud enough for many gigs I do. Delay cabs aren't always an option. I'm slightly less enthused about the KW. they just don't seem to hold their composure when reaching their limits musically. I bought four KW152 and they were OK, easier to lift for sure. They arrayed reasonably if you wanted about a 100 degree splay. That's sort of an issue with most MI active cabinets. Most won't play well in pairs per side.

about the loudest small MI rig I've heard that holds together was the DSR115 over the DXS118 subs. But, without being able to put it into your space and try I suspect you'd only be going slightly uphill, clean gain-wise. I'm hoping/waiting for an upgrade to the KW line, like a KW.2, to see if my venerable HPR rig might be retired.

I've not heard the three way JBL over their powered dual 18 subs. That's an intriguing rig.

Beyond that, passives with power amps, the Danley rig. Older JBL SRX700, QRx212 over QRx218...
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Re: Help sizing new speakers
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2017, 08:17:07 pm »


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