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Cam Offline
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:21 am    Post subject: Outdoor Sound Reply with quote

I'm running a stage outdoors at a local music fest.
We'll have a few powered mains and monitors and a 16 channel board for a mix of about 8 different performers.
Is there any particular equipment I need to help get good outdoor sound?
A few people tell me that running sound at an outdoor venue is tricky.
It's mostly folk and jazz with alot of vocals, acoustic guitars, fiddle.
Any thoughts on this would be great.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd use a compresser if you have access to one, after the mixer main out. Set it like a limiter. The real challenge will arise from the number of open mics you have at one time. But as long as the gain isn't up too loud, you should be OK. If you have feedback problems, the first thing to do would be to move the main speakers forward and to each side away from the center to create more distance from open mics. And you do need to eq an outside space, no matter what you may hear about it, particularly if you are on a village green or a quadrangle of some sort. You have to watch for slapback echoes from surrounding buildings.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Outside is really tough for sure ....... mostly to do with not having enough gear since, to do it right, you need at least a few thousand watts and 3 or 4 15"s per side.
BUT ...... you have to use what you've got and Treelines suggestion of some limiting is excellent since the biggest problem I hear at such events if the engineer trying to make a small PA put out more than it's capable of. There's no way to fill the outside like you would a room ....... so, get it as loud as it'll go and still sound good and accept that that's it and don't try to get more out of it.
In this case ...... just go for quality over any attempt to get quantity.

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Cam Offline
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great advice so far..thanks!
I'll see if I can dig up a compressor.
I don't think we have anywhere near a few thousand watts but if power is that critical, I could probably double up on the 400 watt powered mains.
There are other stages going on around town so we can't be too loud.
How about feedback? With the mains out front and blasting off into eternity, is there less of a feedback issue (I'm still cringing from the winter from the problems I had with a harpist).

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You still may fight feedback with monitors, but as long as they don't need them cranked, you should be fine. No reflections to deal with.

Generally, because there are no reflections to contribute to the volume, you need much more wattage outdoors than in. Also, if there are other stages going on nearby, you'll need to have enough volume to drown them out for your stage's audience.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A snake to get the board out in front of the stage is really helpful so you're not running back and forth making adjustments- best if you can position the board equadistant from the mains

we will always opt to use all 100' of the snake. Power amps are all located on the stage- outboard effects, EQ are back with the board

feedback is less of an issue the farther forward the mains are, but then there's the monitors which are more often the culprits. a slight position change of the mic to one side or the other is often all it takes... and it's often one mic that's causing the problem

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do sound for a Christian music festival every year (thankfully, not alone) http://faithfest.net/ Whenver Lt. Bob has been in town, I've always been busy with the festival and couldn't hook up.

There are 48 bands this year. The outdoor stage will have 15,000 watts (though it's usually overkill, and there are heavy bands playing).

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Last edited by seanmorse on Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:47 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

stainless wrote:
A snake to get the board out in front of the stage is really helpful so you're not running back and forth making adjustments- best if you can position the board equadistant from the mains

we will always opt to use all 100' of the snake. Power amps are all located on the stage- outboard effects, EQ are back with the board


DEFINITELY a long snake (how'd I miss that one). And sunscreen (or shade). And somebody to fetch you cold drinks and an occasional hot dog. And your effects returned on it's own channel for easy muting between songs, and plenty of spare cords and adapters, and break tapes (CD's) to play during setup & teardowns.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...and masking tape for the channel labels, and a set of closed-ear headphones for listening in on the monitor channel, and at least 2 D/I boxes, and thick skin for doing an often thankless job. Smile
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Cam Offline
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone!
I'll let ya know how it turns out in two weeks.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We ended up with 4 powered mains, two powered subs and a few monitors which worked pretty well I think. There was a compressor that was never used. We did have a snake and I hired a sound guy who was suppose to be a bit of a guru at the board but I wasn't that impressed. It took him forever to set up each channel and the mix wasn't all that great IMO. I'm thinking that next year, I'll try and minimize the amount of equipment and inputs (it was junction box spaghetti) to simplify the whole set up.
There were 12 players who collaborated all over the place on everyone elses songs. It was set up so one couple would do a song or two, someone else would jump in on the third, then the first two would leave and someone else would join. It worked like a charm.
We only had two weeks or so to practice. Most of it was done in my living room at nights. I'll miss the practices.
Here are the recordings (I'll just leave them up for day or so).
http://netresult.ca/hmf/

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good work! Most people have no idea how much work goes into a production like that. I do and salute you!
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