Part 2 of 3 - Choosing the Right Speakers For Mid Size Events
Hey, it’s Matt from I DJ Now, and in this video, we’re going to go over what you should be considering when speaker shopping for mid-size events, so this is going to be for those of you who are regularly booking larger parties, weddings, anniversaries, those types of events. Now, you know the drill! Like this video, subscribe to the channel, and let’s get into it.
When you move from small gatherings to more mid-size events, chances are you will need to upgrade your system, because you’ll be performing for larger audiences in larger areas. These events would include parties between 100-300 people, at corporate events, sweet 16s, weddings, anniversaries, retirement parties, graduations, private fundraisers, and other professionally catered affairs. There’s a lot riding on these events. Your reputation is on the line, and every member of your audience is a potential future client. It’s up to you to ensure the quality of your sound. So, to perform at your best, get the right gear for you. Be sure that your system has both the power and the clarity to accommodate events of these specific sizes. Public Address Sound Systems (PAs) for these events should provide power, clarity, versatility, and durability. And it’s up to you to protect and maintain tour equipment.
For mid-size events you’ll typically find standard format speakers in 12” and 15” configurations in use. These have a traditional horizontal driver layout that provides well-balanced sound and stronger bass response. They're versatile for various settings, and you can certainly use multiple standard format speakers to fill out larger spaces.
Adding a Sub-Woofer to your standard format speakers provides you with more bass power. As your crowd size increases, bass power helps a lot by providing more oomph to your sound, and a more balanced overall tone for the space and the crowd. With the subwoofer handling everything on the lower end, this allows your other speakers to deal solely with the high and mid frequencies.
You may also want to consider adding column arrays to your setup. They’re impressive systems, providing efficient and convenient sound solutions that do not disappoint.
Column array powered speakers use vertically aligned drivers for even sound dispersion and projection, making them suitable for larger audiences and open spaces. They offer clarity with a solid bass frequency because most column arrays systems, such as the one you see here, have a subwoofer serving as the base. Convenient in size, easy to transport, and simple to operate, these compact powerhouse systems deliver on their promise.
As the venues grow, your system should grow. Previously we mentioned wattage, which is a measure of electrical power. As you’re moving into bigger venues, you’ll want to make sure you’re maintaining the rule of at least 5 watts per person. As your audience grows, the power of your system should too, in order to maintain the range and clarity of your audio. In bigger spaces, it’s important that the people in the back of the room are enjoying the show just as much as the people right in front. That is why it is so crucial to use speakers that are properly powered for these mid-size events. It’s important to note that speaker wattage can be described as either RMS or Peak. RMS, short for Root Mean Square, refers to the power a speaker can handle continuously. This number will usually be lower than the Peak rating, which is the highest power handling a speaker or subwoofer can handle in a short burst. It’s rare to reach those peak power levels, but as the size of your events continue to increase, it’s something to keep an eye on.
When it comes to loudness, also referred to Sound Pressure Level or SPL, we measure in decibels. The higher the SPL, the louder the speaker is. Keeping tabs on how many decibels you’re pushing out during an event is important for several reasons: Primarily the safety of your audience’s hearing. Some venues may enforce lower decibel levels specifically for this purpose. Be sure educate yourself beforehand when booking gigs at churches, hotel ballrooms, catering halls, and other such locations.
You don’t typically have access to the venue space prior to the event, and unexpected situations can, and will, occur. A Public Address System (PA) that can easily adapt to surprise situations, is essential. Each event is different, and every venue has its own unique challenges and obstacles. Therefore, it’s important to have a setup that is versatile. You may be asked to provide music for a cocktail hour which may not be in the main event area, so having a couple of extra speakers can come in handy. A versatile system can also help with dispersion. As we discussed in the last video, speaker placement is a key element when creating a proper listening experience for your audience. You may be presented with some unexpected setups at these events as you don’t have full control of the space. Your PA system should be flexible and allow you to adjust your speakers in a way that allows for proper dispersion of sound to your guests.
When upgrading your system to accommodate these types of events, there are several points to consider, like transportation. You’ve got all these pricey speakers that you’re going to be lugging around from event to event, you want to make sure they’re protected. For smaller speakers, you could use padded carry cases which should work fine. If you’re working with larger speakers, we recommend investing in some heavy-duty road cases. These will not only protect the speaker but will make them easier to transport since you can stack ‘em and roll ‘em. You might want to also consider the material your speakers are made from. Wooden enclosures are usually preferred as they tend to sound better, but plastic cabinets such as ABS or polypropylene are typically lighter and overall, more practical. At this level, speaker build is going to be quite durable across the board, so your choice of build material is going to be a personal preference.
With mid-size events, it really comes down to portability, versatility, and all while maintaining premium sound quality. It’s a science, so there’s going to be some trial and error as you go. We here at IDJNow are just a chat or phone call away, so feel free to reach out if you need some guidance! Keep an eye out for our next installment where we’ll discuss what you’re going to need for larger scale events.