How to Order Sound Equipment for a Band or Concert
Have you ever planned an event featuring a band or even one musician? Many times event planners are given an equipment list which can sometimes be difficult to navigate. This often leads to miscommunication between the band and the audiovisual provider. So how can you be sure that the band is provided with not only the appropriate equipment but also set up for a successful show? Here is everything you need to know to start planning with musicians.
When ordering sound equipment for a band, our first consideration is microphones. The most obvious first step is to count the number of singers that are needed. The next step that is often overlooked is listing the singers that are also playing instruments. Many vocalists who do not play an instrument prefer to use wireless mics in order to be able to move around the stage freely. (Keep in mind that even with wireless microphones, vocalists usually prefer a mic stand.) For singers who also play instruments, such as guitarist or keyboardist, wired microphones on stands are usually more ideal as they are more reliable and are usually cheaper to rent.
When connecting instruments through the PA, there are usually a few options depending on the instrument. Most musicians already have their preference when it comes to their own sound equipment, so it is important to ask the band how they usually connect their gear. Most guitars have ¼” output jacks which allow them to be hooked straight into the sound system by plugging into a DI Box. This is ideal for acoustic guitars, but when the guitar doesn’t have this option, we recommend using a special made microphone that fits into the guitar’s sound hole. While electric guitars can plug in through DI Boxes as well, it is more common to play the guitars through amps as this is a defining piece of equipment that shapes the tone of the guitar. Because of this, many guitarists prefer to have the audiovisual team place a wired mic in front of the guitar amp in order to pick up a better quality sound. Keyboards and synths are not typically paired with amplifiers, so it is common practice to use a DI Box. Acoustic Drum Sets do tend to be the most complex. For smaller events, drum microphones might not even be necessary due to the volume of most drum kits. For better low end and clarity however, the kick drum is usually mic’ed. If the venue is large enough, requiring that the drums be amplified, then the following mics are typically used: 1 Kick Drum Mic, 1 Snare Drum Mic, 1 Mic per tom, 1 hi-hat Mic, and 2 Overhead Mics to capture the cymbals as well as the full kit sound. Keep in mind that all these mics are normally wired which required lots of cable runs. As far as microphone stands go, the kick drum mic is usually on a small mic stand, and the overheads each require a separate stand. The Snare and tom microphones usually can clip on directly to the drum, thus eliminating a need for more stands.
It is very important for the band member to hear themselves as well as the rest of the band in order to stay in time. Stage monitors (floor monitors) are used to provide individual on-stage mixes so that each band member can hear exactly what they want to hear. Even musicians performing solo will want a monitor to better hear themselves.
The scale of the sound systems will vary depending on the size of the venue. When playing music there are a few key points. First, sub woofers need to be used in order to produce enough low end so that the audience can adequately hear (and even feel) the bass guitar or kick drum. Second, for larger events, we recommend using line array systems because these speakers are designed to deliver far superior clarity that live music requires.
Most audio visual providers will make sure to include a mixer that is up for the job. This should include plenty of channels to include all of the instruments. A full set of drum microphones will take up around 8 channels for example. This should be accounted for when choosing a sound mixer. For each member of the band that wants a separate audio mix in their monitors, the audio console should have enough auxiliary outputs to accommodate this. Most mixers also include the capability to add effects such as reverb or delay. Reverb for vocalists is commonly requested and the mixer should be ready to handle this. When multiple bands are performing and require different settings on each channel, it is useful to use a digital mixer that has the ability to save presets for each band.
With this much sound equipment present, plenty of time should be allotted for the band to not only rehearse on stage, but to run through a thorough sound check. This starts with each member playing individually in order to test the lines and this allows the audio technicians to start setting the eq parameters. Bands need to play for an extended time in order to fine tune the balance of the mixes that they are each hearing in their monitors.
Bands need lots of space! Between drum sets, amplifiers, extra guitars, effect pedalboards, keyboards, and mic stands, the stage can very easily become very crowded. This should be accounted for and tight spaces can easily hinder the performance.
With so much equipment involved, make sure to consult with the venue to ensure enough power. Bands usually are in a hurry to get set up and often plug too many pieces of gear into the same circuit. This can be avoided by running several circuits to the stage in advance of the band’s arrival.
Here at Aventus, we are experienced in providing full service concert audio and will work with you and your band all the way to ensure that your musicians are equipped to deliver their best to your audience.
What are you waiting for? Just give us a shout and see how we can help transform your meeting or special event into something truly extraordinary.
Our aim is to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours, but usually much faster. For immediate assistance, please feel free to call (239) 319-9191