Live Sound 101: Sound System Design and Setup for a Live Band

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If you have been tasked with setting up a sound system for a small band that wishes to reach an audience of 300 to 500 people, there are various elements, both strategic and technological, to consider. Audio tech people have never had such a broad range of sound reinforcement equipment and techniques at their disposal. The choices of technology and products available can be overwhelming, so let’s talk about some of the options.

Speaker Selection

Your choice of speakers should be based on coverage requirements and the size of the venue. There are some things to consider regarding the shape of the room and how the speakers will interact with boundaries, such as the walls, the ceiling, and the floor.

You want to get the best speakers your budget will allow. Start by figuring out what you can afford and then determine what sounds best to you within that price range. Always listen to the speakers before buying, as not all of them are made equal. When choosing a speaker, you’ll want to consult the specification sheet, which should be readily available from most reputable manufacturers. The most important specs to know are the frequency response, SPL output, and dispersion. If you are using passive speakers, then you’ll need to know the wattage and impedance (ohms resistance).

A full-range speaker with a frequency response of 60 Hz to 18 kHz may be fine for many genres of music, such as country, folk, or folk-rock, where the kick drum and bass don’t need additional punch. For rock, metal, pop, hip hop, EDM, etc., you will want a subwoofer. A subwoofer extends the frequency response down to 45 Hz or lower and will allow the full-range speakers additional headroom and increased output.  

Frequency Spectrum for Full Range Tops and Subwoofer
 

The sound pressure level of a speaker will determine how loud a speaker is at a given distance (typically 1 meter). Most spec sheets will show Peak and Continuous outputs. The peak is how loud the speaker is on loud transients, while continuous output is the average loudness. This is a good indication of how the speaker performs, dynamically. Sound pressure levels (SPL) will attenuate by 6 dB with the doubling of the distance. If a speaker were capable of 135 dB at 1m, then 2m would have an SPL of 129 dB. By doubling the distance to 4m, the speaker would output 123 dB and so on. Another consideration is that doubling up on the speakers will result in a +3 dB increase. If a speaker has a peak output of 135, by adding another speaker the output would increase to 138 dB.

Sound Pressure Level to Decibels Distance
 

Dispersion is the way the sound is projected horizontally and vertically from the speaker. This is incredibly useful for determining the placement of speakers, as you can direct the sound away from boundaries, such as walls and ceilings. For instance, a speaker with a 60-degree horizontal dispersion might work well for a narrow room, while adding an additional speaker could increase the dispersion to 120. The goal is to offer coverage to the entire audience, while directing the sound off the walls. Many speakers are designed to couple by utilizing a trapezoidal enclosure, versus a square or rectangular enclosure. The trapezoidal design allows for easy placement of the speakers, as they can be placed together in tight-knit group or array, which allows for coupling with reduced interference between speakers.

The vertical dispersion will determine how high the full-range tops will need to be to provide proper sound coverage for the audience. There are many ways to configure a system, in terms of height and whether ground-stacking, speaker stands, scaffolding, or trussing should be implemented as a way to get the speaker high enough to offer extended coverage. The higher the speaker, the farther the sound will travel. If it is too high, there will be a loss of impact in the front. Not high enough may result in the sound being uncomfortably loud for the front row.

Horizontal Dispersion Vertical Dispersion

For our purposes, I suggest setting the tops at shoulder to head level, about 5 to 6 feet from the floor. If you are utilizing subwoofers, you might try ground-stacking the tops on top of the subs. Many speakers offer pole mounts for use with speaker stands. This is the simplest way to get proper height, especially if you don’t have multiple subs to create a ground stack. At the very least, you want your high-frequency driver above the heads of the people in the audience.


Ground Stack
 

Active versus Passive

There are pros and cons to both active and passive speaker designs. Active speakers are the easiest to deploy with built-in amplifiers that are matched to the speaker components (woofers, mid-range, and tweeters—typically compression drivers). They also feature crossovers, which isolate and route frequency ranges to each component, and built-in limiters for protecting the drivers. A three-way active speaker will have two or more built-in crossovers, which isolate the high, mid, and low frequencies. The advantage of active speakers is the ease of setup and operation. They only require a line level input and you won’t have to use separate amplifiers to power them.

Passive speakers require amplification, speaker cables, and may require an outboard crossover and other signal processing. Some passive speakers will utilize an internal crossover network, which functions much like the active speakers. Other speakers are designed to be bi-amped or tri-amped, which can be a benefit, as this allows greater control over the speaker components, but also requires a separate amplifier for each component of the speaker. If you decide to go with a passive speaker design, you’ll need to look at the specification sheet provided by the manufacturer to determine the correct amplifier(s).

Active Speaker Passive Speaker

The input range of a speaker is typically given in continuous, program, and peak wattage measurements. You will most likely see the continuous output and either program or peak. The general rule is a doubling of the continuous results in program, while doubling the program will give the peak performance. For instance, a speaker with a continuous input of 1400 watts will offer a program of 2800 watts and a peak of 5600 watts. The larger the amplifier, the more headroom will be available. Do you really need to match 5600 watts to this speaker? Most professionals will say no. A good formula is to aim for 1.5 x the continuous input. A 1400 watt input x 1.5 is 2100 watts and should be the bare minimum for this speaker. A safer bet is to match the speaker to the program output of 2800 watts.

Another consideration is the impedance or ohms resistance for the speaker. You will need to consult the amplifier specifications to determine how much power an amplifier is able to produce at a given impedance. Most manufacturers will boast the highest output of both channels at the lowest resistance. When matching your amplifier to your speaker, it’s important to consider the ohms rating and wattage. For instance, an amplifier that is rated at 4000 watts (2000 watts per channel) at 2 ohms will realistically deliver 1400 watts at 4 ohms and 850 watts at 8 ohms. We could certainly use this amp with our 1400-watt speaker, but at its continuous output rate, it doesn’t leave much headroom. Without headroom, it is entirely possible we could drive the amplifier into clipping and potentially damage the speakers.

Some amplifier manufacturers will indicate power draws as 1/8 power, 1/3 power, and full power. 1/8 power delivers the amplified signal below the built-in clip limiters, while 1/3 power will have the clip limiters occasionally flashing. Full power will have the limiters in constant activity. When engaging the clip limiters, you are actually rounding off the audio signal to prevent distortion, but the signal of the audio will be compromised. I prefer to run the amplifiers at 1/8 power, which will give plenty of headroom without squaring off the waveforms. You may also use a higher-rated amplifier at 1/8 power without fear of damaging your speakers. Remember, the quickest way to blow a speaker is to underpower it.

Subwoofers also come in active and passive options with the same pros and cons. There are many different designs that can offer pretty outstanding results. The best bang-for-the-buck I recommend is a Yorkville LS801P. It is a self-powered, single 18" tapped-horn design with a tremendous output, rivaling or surpassing most double 18" designs.

Yorkville LS801P Subwoofer
 

Depending on your setup and how many subs you have, you will have more consistent results by placing all the subs together. Placing two subs together will yield a 3 dB gain in SPL and they will couple without interference. A stereo sub configuration may create null points in the room where certain frequencies cancel each other out. Other tricks to maximize bass are to place the subs near a wall or corner, as each of the boundaries will reinforce the sound and help load the room. My favorite configuration is to center-cluster four subs together (2 wide x 2 tall).

Speaker Processors

Regardless of whether you are using active speakers or passive speakers with an amplifier, you should invest in a speaker processor. In my opinion, it is the most important piece of gear and will save you time, money, and headaches. A speaker processor combines a number of processors into a rackmount signal processor. You will find gain, EQ, delay, crossovers, and limiting for both input and output. A typical processor might have a stereo input and six outputs. The inputs will feature a 6- to 8-band parametric EQ and/or a graphic EQ, as well as a system delay. Each output on your processor will offer gain, a 4-band parametric EQ, a delay for time-aligning speaker components in a bi-amp or tri-amp application, or a full-range speaker and a subwoofer.

Signal Path for a Passive Sound System
 

You will also find digital crossovers featuring Bessel, Butterworth, and Linkwitz-Riley band-pass filters. Each crossover offers a high-frequency and low-frequency setting with selectable filter types. For tops, I typically set the HPF to 96 Hz on a 24 dB per octave Linkwitz-Riley filter and the LPF to off. For subs, I set the LPF to 96 Hz on a 24 dB per octave Link-Riley filter and the HPF to 30 Hz on a 48 dB Butterworth filter. The major focus is the crossover between the LPF of the sub and the HPF of the top. A 24-dB-per-octave Link-Riley filter keeps the frequency response flat where both the subwoofer and top are crossing over.

Note: A speaker processor delay is not a digital delay effect, as it is intended to literally delay a signal by a set amount and does not offer a “wet/dry” setting. If a manufacturer offers time delay settings for your speakers, you can use those to time align the tops and subs. The LS-801P has a 3 ms delay, so adjusting the tops to match the inherent delay of the subs will provide a coherent and phase-accurate wave front. If you don’t have the specs, you can invest in a measurement system like SMAART. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can purchase the AudioTools app by Studio Six Digital, which can help you measure and calibrate your sound system.

Analog Mixers versus Digital Mixers

Analog mixers are the mainstay of any audio system, and range in price and features. There are some diehard analog enthusiasts who will not move to a digital mixing board, as they believe the analog components sound superior to digital. If you are mixing a live band, you will want some additional signal processors to shape the sound of each instrument. Most analog mixing consoles will offer a built-in four band parametric EQ, which helps balance the tonal sound and carves out space for each instrument in the mix. It is rare to find analog consoles with built-in dynamics available on every channel. Therefore, an all-analog setup will require several racks of gear to accommodate the additional signal processing, such as compression and gates for each channel.

Analog Mixer Digital Mixer

Another aspect to consider is the use of wedge monitors or stage monitors. These are speakers that are typically on the floor and angled up toward the performers, offering a dedicated mix, which allows the musicians to hear themselves on stage. Feedback can become a problem, so the use of graphic EQs will be needed to remove the frequencies that are feeding back. Add in additional signal processors like multi-effects, delays, and reverbs and you can see the analog setup may sound better, but will cost more money with the additional signal processing, plus there are additional racks, cabling, troubleshooting, and maintenance involved.

Digital mixers have made some considerable advances in recent years regarding the quality of the sound, and pricing that is comparable to many moderately priced analog consoles. Digital mixers offer the best solution for any touring band, with a large channel count and each channel packing four-band EQ, compression, and gating. Additionally, each output features graphic EQ for ringing out monitors. Many mixers feature internal effects with up to eight insert slots for use with internal sends. You can still use your favorite outboard gear, but the digital platform reduces the amount of gear substantially. Another benefit of the digital mixer is the wireless control options. Many mixers offer iOS and Android control apps.

BEHRINGER X32 Digital Mixing Console IOS APP
 

If the FOH position is in a less than desirable place, the engineer can move about the room to make informed adjustments based on the audience’s perspective. This also allows the engineer to tweak monitors from the stage, while standing next to the musicians. Many mixer platforms will allow multiple device setups in which band members may adjust their own mix in real time, allowing the FOH engineer to focus on the main mix. Other features now incorporated in the digital platform include spectral analysis and a real-time analyzer (RTA) for making adjustments to monitors or to the entire mix. However, I still recommend a dedicated speaker processor for tuning the sound system.

Stage Snakes and Stage Boxes

A stage box or multi-channel snake is highly beneficial for reducing clutter on the stage. Some larger stage setups use a splitter that splits the signal from all the sound sources on stage between FOH and monitors. Most mid-level bands typically don’t have a dedicated monitor engineer, so the FOH engineer will perform both main mixing and monitor duties. With an analog setup, you’d be working with a 16- to 24-channel audio snake with a cable run of 100+ feet. A drum kit may have 8 to 12 microphones set up to capture the sound, so a dedicated sub-snake allows for shorter mic-cable runs and a much cleaner stage setup.

Stage Sub-Snakes
 

Utilizing stage sub-snakes before going to the main stage snake will keep the cable clutter on stage to a minimum. Many digital mixers offer digital stage boxes that function like an analog stage snake, only instead of a 16- to 24-pair multi-channel cable, the digital snake will use a single CAT5 cable to connect to the mixer in the FOH position. This cuts down considerably on the weight and setup time of the entire system.

Digital Snake
 

Microphones

In order for musicians to be heard, microphones are used to capture vocals, guitar amplifiers, and drums. The mainstay of live music is the use of dynamic microphones. There are many microphone manufacturers, but the favorite of most clubs is still the Shure SM58 for vocals and SM57 for instruments. They have proven their value over time by sounding good and being incredibly rugged. They can literally take a beating and still function. If there is the budget and desire for wireless microphones, I personally recommend the Shure QLX-D series digital microphones. They offer clean, clear sound without any artifacts, and with a simple setup.

Shure QLX-D Series Digital Microphone
 

In-Ear Monitors

Many bands prefer to forgo the use of stage monitors and opt for in-ear-monitors (IEM). I’ve used the entry-level PSM300 Shure Personal Monitoring System for years and have had excellent results. With a digital mixer, the setup and operation is even simpler, resulting in very happy musicians who are able to set their own monitor mix—and without excessive stage volume.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many directions one can choose when setting up a sound system for your band or event: analog mixers versus digital mixers; passive speakers and subs versus active designs. Each has its pros and cons. The most important thing is to use your ears when making decisions. Always listen to speakers before purchasing and, if possible, demo speakers and subs together, especially if you are using different brands. I can’t recommend enough the importance of having a dedicated speaker processor for any system, regardless of size or budget.

81 Comments

Am a fresher on sound/stage setting...pls any tip for beginners?

Hi Andrew!

This was very helpful. Would you mind if you could recommend a mid-range sound system components for church purposes with 50-80 people hall.

Many thanks,

Vonne

Hi Vonne -

Are you looking for a portable system?    https://bhpho.to/2J5TQsQ

The Bose L1 Compact Wireless is a portable line array system designed to provide wide coverage, wired and wireless connectivity, and simple setup for musicians, DJs, and hosts at restaurants, parties, conferences, and other special events. It features proprietary technology and multiple drivers to deliver nearly 180° of coverage for audiences of up to 100 people. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities are provided by the included SoundTouch Wireless Link adapter, which connects via a supplied audio cable to the L1. The system uses interlocking components that require no cables or stands.

It sits at 16.5” high and has two 32.5” extensions for an extended height of 78.5”. XLR, RCA, 3.5mm, and 1/4” inputs allow you to connect a variety of sources such as a microphone, guitar, smartphone, and CD player. The built-in mixer offers controls for volume, treble, and bass, plus ToneMatch presets further enhance your tone. 1/4” and RCA outputs can easily be connected to a recorder or another L1 system.

The L1 Compact Wireless can be carried in a single trip due to its built-in handle and supplied carry bag for the extensions.

Use with this:   https://bhpho.to/2KZj4hi

The integrated ToneMatch processing and zEQ help you get a great sounding mix quickly and effectively. The Bose ToneMatch processor is natural sounding on vocals and instruments, while the zEQ focuses your tone for effective adjustments on-the-fly. The illuminated, tactile controls, and indicators offer quick, spontaneous sound adjustment, even on dark stages. Additionally, the ToneMatch system offers advanced features such as tap tempo delay, a built-in chromatic tuner, and recallable scenes to create a professional on-stage companion for any performing artists.

Each channel offers a trim knob, a channel edit button, an FX mute button, a volume knob, and a dedicated channel mute. The main output features a master volume control, an independent headphone volume control, and phantom power for working with condenser microphones. The Bose T4S ToneMatch Mixer ships with a magnetic cover and a ToneMatch cable.

I'm using the Mackie ProFX22 mixer for a 5-piece classic rock band.  That mixer has 2 aux sends.  We send one to the drummer's in-ear monitor and the other is sent to a pair of stage monitors.  The singer would like to use a wireless in-ear system.  The other musicians don't have in-ears so unless/until they do, I guess we would keep the stage monitors as well.  And...that's the problem.  Only 2 aux sends but 3 monitor setups.  Can a Send be split 2 ways - one to the stage monitors and one to the singer?  How about chaining the wireless IEM base station with the stage monitors?  One wouldn't have control over those two monitor mixes, but otherwise is that a workable solution?  OR...is that where a speaker processor comes in?  

Any thoughts on how to accomplish this would be appreciated.  Thanks!

I could not look for any more. You have just touched on every point that I wanted to know. Thanks for the very insightful, educative, and insightful post that is useful for every sound setup in a church.

Hi Fred - 

Consider using something like this:
The dbx DriveRack PA2 Complete Loudspeaker Management System (https://bhpho.to/2p8tzSt) is a loudspeaker management system that can be controlled via your Mac, PC, or mobile iOS or Android device. Using an optional microphone connected to its RTA input, its AutoEQ function can be employed to listen to your room and automatically EQ it for optimized speaker performance. The AFS (advanced feedback suppression) feature is designed to eliminate feedback while preserving the sound of your system.

In addition to automated functions, the DriveRack has integrated dbx compression and limiting as well as both a graphic and 8-band parametric EQ section. It also features driver alignment delays and a crossover section that supports full range, 2-way, and 3-way systems. You can control the DriveRack PA2 directly connect from your Mac or PC via rear-panel USB port, or connect the PA2 to a wireless router via its Ethernet port for compatibility with iOS or Android devices.

Have anyone have any recommendations for overhead monitors over a small stage? I have no room for floor wedges, I will appreciate any suggestion from hands-on experience. Thanks.

Hi Luis - 

The AIR12 from PreSonus (B&H # PRAIR12) is a versatile and customizable 2-way active sound-reinforcement loudspeaker featuring 1200W of power and enhanced digital tuning functions, well suited for live bands, DJs, clubs, event halls, bars, speaking engagements, and more. The speaker utilizes two amplifiers for the high and low frequency drivers. A 500W (continuous) Class-D amplifier powers the 12" woofer for efficient and clean low end performance, while a 200W (continuous) Class-A/B amplifier powers the 1.35" compression driver for a natural "airy" high end. Both drivers combine to provide 131 dB SPL with a frequency response of 60 Hz to 20 kHz (-3 dB).

The integrated and easy-to-use digital signal processor (DSP) allows you to customize the loudspeaker for a number of applications including DJ, FOH, Monitor, and Speech presets. Additionally, ±10 dB of treble and bass control allows you to further tailor the sound and compensate for room anomalies. Location presets let you optimize performance for stand and bracket mounting as well as flown installations. The Air12 ships with a power cord.

HELP ANYONE... I have a pair of EAW AS-300is speakers, Horn loaded sound reinforcement sytem. I don't know much about these except they are definitely for the big boys and they weigh alot. I was wanting to sell them does anyone know what they would be worth and what site I could post them. Not for sure on the age of them but they are in good shape but cabinets show a little wear but not bad. Thanks

Hello All, 

Great article. I am an industrial design student and currently working on researching further audio and visual equipment for my thesis. I grew up working under my father's audio rental system . From small parties to sold out concerts and still learning, Anyway I'm wondering what common problems do you guys come across with audio equipment that could be addressed better with design? Thanks 

I have been tasked with refining sound equipment at a small-medium church. Currently all the speakers are active speakers (mains, sub, wedge monitors). I've read that passive speaker setup is better for permanent installations such as churches.

All the equipment is relatively new and in great working condition. Do you think it is worth it to switch to passive setup? I would need to buy new mains, sub, monitors, as well as supporting equipment such as amps, front of house mixer/EQ/processor, and a bunch of speaker cables.

Are there any big drawbacks to using an active speaker system in a permanent install (besides the hassle of turning the switching on and off for every speaker)?

Hi RJ - 

If you are relatively happy with your present gear and the way it sounds and performs, why upgrade now?.  I would advise waiting until there is a compelling need.

I do FoH for a smaller church and we went from passive to active about five years ago as it just saves a lot of hassle.

By moving from passives to QSC K-series speakers we were able to rid ourselves of racks of amplifiers, associated power snakes and the hassles they brought. Most active speakers even have a signal sensing mode so you don’t need to run around and turn them on, they’ll fire up when they sense a signal. It all sounds and works great.

In short, don’t listen to what “people say” - go with what works for you in your situation. I can honestly say I don’t think we’d ever go back to passive.

Bill wrote:

Most active speakers even have a signal sensing mode so you don’t need to run around and turn them on, they’ll fire up when they sense a signal.

Thanks for the great advice Mark and Bill.

Bill, can you please expand on this signal sensing? I've never heard of this feature. I did a Google search and couldn't find any information on it either.

hello dear 

i want to set up sound system in one small church size 12m*12m* 4m.so what should use for better sound ?and i also want to add drum into sound system. please kind list the Equipment for me. thank you from our chuch.

Hi Chann - 

Please send us this request with budget details and any existing equipment you will need to integrate to:  askbh@bandh.com    

hi , have a question ; 

i have four monitors and would like to add feedback control , do i need to encororate two feedback units seeing how each unit only has two channels ? Four seperate aux sends for powered stage floor monitors . I do have each into a sepreate eq unit.

Thanks

hi

i have big problem

why my subwoofer lose the throw low freqnce 

My Wave form is 35hz-140hz low .........140hz - 2.5khz mid............... 2.5khz - 18khz highz

i use cerwin wega bin n selenium top

Hi Erick -

Check the wired connections at the sub and the receiver to ensure that the conections are "in phase".  That is, the speaker wires are connected observing the correct polarity from each connection terminal:  Negative to negative (-) and positive to positive (+).

Hi. I was using 2 12inch active Mackie srm 450 with alto small mixer in a pub. But the sound was not loud as it could be the carpets and the curved wall structures? So what can I do to make it more loud for 50-75 people in the same place? We were using 2 electro - acoustic guitars, bass guitar and cajun with 2 vocals. 

Should I have to add subs to it or more speakers or upgrade to new mixer? 

Thanks 

Hi. I was using 2 12inch active Mackie srm 450 with alto small mixer in a pub. But the sound was not loud as it could be the carpets and the curved wall structures? So what can I do to make it more loud for 50-75 people in the same place? We were using 2 electro - acoustic guitars, bass guitar and cajun with 2 vocals. 

Should I have to add subs to it or more speakers or upgrade to new mixer? 

Thanks 

Hi Milan -

Are the speakers up on stands? Have you tried an EQ?.  A loudspeaker management  system can be invaluable to use with an existing system:

The dbx DriveRack PA2 Complete Loudspeaker Management System is a loudspeaker management system that can be controlled via your Mac, PC, or mobile iOS or Android device. Using an optional microphone connected to its RTA input, its AutoEQ function can be employed to listen to your room and automatically EQ it for optimized speaker performance. The AFS (advanced feedback suppression) feature is designed to eliminate feedback while preserving the sound of your system.

In addition to automated functions, the DriveRack has integrated dbx compression and limiting as well as both a graphic and 8-band parametric EQ section. It also features driver alignment delays and a crossover section that supports full range, 2-way, and 3-way systems. You can control the DriveRack PA2 directly connect from your Mac or PC via rear-panel USB port, or connect the PA2 to a wireless router via its Ethernet port for compatibility with iOS or Android devices.

You have 2 12 inchis ev sound speakers

love your setup procedures, tanks for the info

love your setup procedures, tanks for the info

Many thanks, great article. I play in a 5 piece rock band, only vocals usually go thru PA, would you advise the 2 electric guitarists ( solid Fenders) also go thru the  pa

Hello.

I plan to use 2 GTDaudio SK10's..use one primarily for vocals/acoustic guitars and one for instruments

would this work ok..Thanks

Hi Henry - 

I have not used these mixers, but if you feel you would like to use separate mixers, instead of one, then go ahead.  Seems more difficult to me.

Is it a "pain" to connect 2 power mixers together ? ie GTDaudio SK-10's...?..thanks..total newbie at this !!!

Hi Henry -

It would really depend upon the units' I/O's. Send us your questions and details to: askbh@bandh.com    

Hi All,

I would like to set-up karaoke system at home use only or max tto entertain 15 to 20 people in small function hall. I have bought Behringer Q802X Mixer, One ATM 510 and one Shure SM58  microphone (earlier i was using cheap 10$ microphone for PCO), I am using existing active speaker 30watts with below specs.

POWER CAPACITY:2 × 30 WattsFREQUENCY RANGE:100Hz - 20kHzIMPEDANCE:4 OhmSENSITIVIY:88dBWOOFERS::51/4" PolypropyleneDIMENSIONS(HWD)::240 × 178 × 170 mm

Now I want to upgrade my speakers as i dont see sound is not that rich. I have below concerns can someone please help me out.

1. Should i go for active or passive speakers? as i have mixer already

2. What minimum inch speakers I must need for live vocal sound? 2 way or 3 Way?

3. Any small range amp and spaker combination for home use ?

Hi Bhushan - 

You can use active PA speakers as they will be most convenient.  I am not sure what your budget might be, but here's a good place to start:

The Alto TX8 280-Watt 8" 2-Way Active Loudspeaker is designed for spoken word and music live sound reinforcement applications, such as for mobile DJ PA systems, gymnasiums, houses of worship, bars, restaurants, and small clubs among others. The speaker utilizes a a bi-amplified ported design with a class D amplifier that delivers 280 Watts peak (140 Watts continuous) into a 8" low-frequency woofer with a 2" voice coil electronically crossed over at 2.5 kHz to a 1" titanium diaphragm neodymium high frequency compression driver with a 1" voice coil. This combination delivers a frequency response of 75 to 20,000 Hz and a maximum SPL of 113 dB at 1 m.

Hi, Really interesting piece, I have very limited eperience in this area but been tasked with reviewing our soical clubs systems which is very old and had numerous addons. Our hall is 30m x 15m high cieling height of roughly6m. My goal is a system that will provide quality sound for mainly microphone, TV. video, but with the bonus of bands connecting into a resident system if that's possible.

Hi Steve - 

What this project calls out for is a an on-site survey by a trained professional/integrator.  But if you send us this question via e-mail with more details regarding approximate budget range, floorplan, activities, audienc, etc.,  we will do our best to offer you some practical guidance:  

AskBH@BandH.com

I am running sound for a small communitry center I have a huge board and I want to learn to read it properly. Everthing is allready set up snake and boxes I can set up the stage but the bosr is confusing is there a standard way of learning how to read aboard?

The first thing to remember about mixers is to not look at it as a whole, but as a series of individual channels. Every live mixer will consist of a number of IDENTICAL microphone channels, then sometimes a couple of stereo line channels, then finally the output section.

The mic channels will consist of a series of knobs, (usually) starting from the top there will be Gain (how much signal you let into the mixer), 3 or 4 EQ knobs (High, Mid, Low), then Auxillery sends (for sending signal to reverbs & monitors), then Pan (which sends signal left or right of center) and finally the Fader (controlling how much signal goes to the Master Faders.

The output section of mixers is usually a little more varied than the input sections are, but will at it's simplest have knobs for Auxillery Sends and Returns and 1 or 2 Master Faders.

Once you get used to the fact that MOST channels are exactly the same, and MOST mixers consist of very simillar feature, then mixers become much simpler.

Hi.

I am needing to run sound for a 5 piece classic rock band for a festival this summer. It is an outdoor event on a raised stage (3 ft).  I need some setup advice on how to setup my complete live sound system.

I have a Behringer PMP6000 analog mixer. 20 channels. A 12 channel snake. I have a QSC 2 channel amp (1,000 watts x 2). I also have a Crown 2 channel amp (1400 watts x 2). For subs, I have 2 QSC KW181 actives & I also have a pair of Behringer Eurolive active 15's. For tops, I have a pair of JBL SP-2G's & a pair of Behringer passives with 2x15" & horn. I may also employ a pair of additional Peavey full range tops to increase throw, SPL, and coverage. I also have 3 Peavey wedge monitors. The twoonitors up front will receive the same monitor mix and be cabled together, while the other one will be for the drummer with a different monitor mix. I also have the use of a small Behringer rack mixer/splitter to further spilt an input signal into multiple outputs if needed.

My question is....how do I set all of this gear up properly and utilize it effectively for an outdoor band concert situation? 

All 4 subs at center of stage & on the ground? The 4 (maybe 6) tops on stage with the two left speakers cabled together for a 4 ohm load & the same on the right? How do I get my two monitor mixes powered and to their respective wedges?

In order to control the subs, do I need a separate output control for each of my sub pairs? Also, do I need a separate output for each of my speaker pairs to control them? If so,....how?

I want to be able to control my subs, my tops, and my monitors from the mixer board and provide the proper effects, etc to each.

What outputs do I utilize on my mixer board for what?

Thanks in advance for all of your help!!

Hi Ken - 

This would appear to be a complex set-up depending upon the venue size and audience.  Please e-mail this and any other related concerns to us at:  

 AskBH@BandH.com

Hi Ken:  Run your subs on an  aux send . Same as a monitor mix. Stage on aux 1. Drummer mix on aux 2. Subs on aux 3. Turn aux 3 for subs in only the channels you want to come though subs.

Hi boss im gene from Philippines. I am planning to buy a Behringer EU2000 to drive a passive 15inch 700watts speaker x2 and a behringer inuke1000 to drive a kevler passive 15inch 800watss speaker x2. What is your suggestion with this. Thanks

Hi Gene -

We could not make any recommendations here as we do not have near enough technical information regarding the speakers and your intended appliation and venue details.  Please send us this questionn via e-mail:  AskBH@BandH.com

Great article

Please could you guide me with the following or maybe a drawing i use

1 x Toa 24 4-2 mixer

2 x qsc 900 power amps 

2 x sub base

2 x full range front of house speakers

1 x system controler

1 X l 15 band EQ.

1 x 16 inputs & 4 return snake 50ft long

1 X qsc drives subs   , 1 x qsc drives mids /wired through controler 

How would you set up for a monitor mix 

Can you hook up a multi-effects processor to a PA mixer and have more than 1 guitar use it at the same time? If so how?

Hi - 

PA mixers do not have inserts.   Therefore, there is no way to use an external fx processor.

  • This is possible with a regular audio mixer.  Use the SEND & RETURNS from the mixer and  then assign the guitar channels to a dedicated SUB GROUP.

Many Live mixers DO have inserts, they are most often used for adding Compressors/Gates

If your mixer has auxallary sends yes. You can Take your auxillary outputs plug them into your fx units inputs. Then take you fx units outputs back down a spare channel (mono) or two (Stereo) on your mixer. Now you can send any channel on the mixer to the FX unit. Hope that helps haha.

I am green as hell newbie with a new project/ business as an event provider, thanks for the info out here we lack the technical sound enginerr expertise, but the gear seems to be state of the art according to the suplier JBL and some of the other brands I have seen mentioned in your article.

The other event promoters seem to be complaining as to the sound quality from these guys with good gear (expensive rental) but lacking in expertise, i was just trying to get some ideas as to what may work or how it works, learnt a lot but obviously still way out of my depth. I get that active spaker systems would be better for me, is there any other info or additional formulars that you have I found the ones mentioned enlightening.

Cheers and thanks for the info. and the others that commented

Althoigh I'm not a total newbie, my experience is limited. That said, I've been using an old (but in remarkably good condition) Samson MPL4.2. to run P.A. for a local function band. However, the demands of band members regarding individual 'mixes' on their stage monitors leave my old mixer sadly lacking.

I'm really looking for something with at least 4 pre-fade auxilieries (my current mixer has 1), but I'm on a tight buget. Pre-owned is fine, analogue is perfect.

Any suggestions, please, I'm based in the southern UK.

Many thanks.

Hi Bob -

The ProFX8v2 8-channel mixing console from Mackie features a built-in effects engine, and is ideal for a plethora of live sound reinforcement applications ranging from live bands and DJs to lecturers and presenters. With 4 XLR mic inputs with low-noise Vita microphone preamps, per channel 3-band EQ, 1 aux send, and an FX out for feeding external processors, the ProFX8v2 offers professional features to suit a wide variety of configurations.

When ringing out the monitors with an equalizer, is it necessary to test every mic with every monitor on stage?  Most of the tutorials I have seen only show the engineer using one mic, finding the frequencies that feed back, and pulling them down in the EQ.  Shouldn't the process be repeated using every mic on the stage?  At the least, shouldn't this be done with both the left and right side monitors?

Hi Regan -

     I'm with you on this one, Regan.  Test every mic! Or at least one mic for the vocals and the other mics that might be used for specifc instruments.  The dbx DriveRack PA2 Complete Loudspeaker Management System is a loudspeaker management system that can be controlled via your Mac, PC, or mobile iOS or Android device. Using an optional microphone connected to its RTA input, its AutoEQ function can be employed to listen to your room and automatically EQ it for optimized speaker performance. The AFS (advanced feedback suppression) feature is designed to eliminate feedback while preserving the sound of your system.

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