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|15th December 2008, 11:35 PM||#11|
I have quite a bit of experience in doing audiophile quality club and front of house systems. As with any system it is important to determine your goals up front and come up with a clear plan to meet them. In many cases overall volume is the main goal above all else, which is one reason why a system can sound poor. Improper integration into the room and improper design of the room can be even bigger factors. Even the best system can be made to sound terrible due to human error of the ones operating the system. In many cases it is beneficial to give access to a very limited amount of EQ, level control, etc.
Whether it's a club, church, concert hall, studio, or a theater room you need to look at some issues. You need to determine how loud you need to play, the coverage pattern, and listening distances. The following system was designed for a club which was in an old movie theater. They wanted very even coverage throughout the room both left to right and front to back. There also was no real sound treatment done to the room so we had to pay attention to boundaries. The line array with ribbon tweeters gave us the wide horizontal coverage pattern, extra output at the farthest distances, and ability to aim the array so the reflections off the back wall simply died out as they were directed downward towards the floor.
As this was a club system where many DJ's could come in, they were left only with the controls of the mixing board. Everything else was locked out in the processors so nothing could be changed. Compression and limiting was set to avoid being able to ever clip the system and damage drivers.
Another system did for Elite Audio you can see part of here. They use this system for live sound in venues up to about 1500 people and outdoor shows. His goal for the system was not all out levels, but he wanted very accurate reproduction. The drivers chosen were the TD15M's and a BMS coax compression driver on 18sound XT1464 horn. This horn matches the coverage pattern he wanted quite well. The system can be toed in for more narrow rooms to avoid reflections off the side walls.
For processing he has the Lab Gruppen 10000W amps with the Dolby Lake processors built in. This allowed us to do all the processing needed for the speakers themselves. Then he has separate EQ available on the main inputs to EQ for any particular venue. Once this is done, the program is saved for future trips to that venue.
There is one particular venue that the system is at quite often. There have been Turbosound systems, JBL, EV, Martinsound, etc all in this same venue, but Elite Audio is continually being told that their system is the best sounding that has been in the venue. When doing outdoor shows, the system has been described as "a good sounding hi-fi system on steroids." This is a combination of several things. Good drivers used, proper cabinet design, optimization of the speakers themselves and proper integration and setup in the room. Again, all of these issues need to be properly addressed for the system to sound right.
As for your system, I'd start by determining the type of venues you'll be in. Determine listening distances, coverage areas, and output levels. A good general rule is that for national shows, the system needs to be able to output 110dB at the mix position. In the venue mentioned above, this is about 50-60ft from the stage. Determine what kind of music you'll be doing. Recorded music requires much less headroom but a snare drum without a lot of compression requires a lot of headroom for example. Then also determine how you are going to move the system. This plays a big part into how large and heavy things can be. Once you have answers to all of these issues, then you can start looking at options for the system itself.
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