Adventures In Audio
How to please your audience (and not deafen them)

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Monday June 11, 2012
FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD ►

A question from a Audio Masterclass visitor...

Hi I'm Griffith, I'm a sound technician at our church.

We are using 4 x 350 watts Beta 3 powered speakers, 2 x 1000 watts bass speakers (quite big, it's also used for events outside) and a Mackie VLZ pro mixer. Our church can house at around 400-450 persons.

The first row of seats is too close to the stage, that we have to put our speakers at the back portion of the stage. Thus, band and singers are in front of the speakers.

How can I achieve a good sound without feedback, and is it possible to move the speakers forward and not making the audience deaf?

According to my recollection, it actually does say in the good book that two wrongs don't make a right, although possibly not quite in those words.

And indeed the 'wrong' of the front rows of the audience being too close to the speakers cannot properly be corrected by placing the speakers behind the band.

Firstly, what is the problem with having the speakers too close to the front rows of the audience?

This is quite simple. If the level is turned up loud enough for those in the back rows, then it will be uncomfortably loud for those at the front.

And what is the problem with placing the speakers behind the band?

Also simple... the vocal microphones will pick up the sound from the speakers directly and the chances of feedback are high.

The solution is all in the siting of the loudspeakers.

If the speakers are too close to some audience members and too far from others, then the solution is to make the distances as close to being the same as possible.

And the way to do this is raise up the speakers. All the way to the ceiling won't be too far (unless your ceiling is extraordinarily high).

By doing this, the difference in distance from the speakers to the front rows, and from the speakers to the back rows will be more nearly the same. Therefore you can get much closer to a 'one level suits all' situation.

Don't forget to position the speakers in front of the band.

There are two problems however...

One is that you have now increased the distance from the speakers to all of the audience, hence it is likely that the sound is more reverberant.

The solution to excessive reverberation in live sound is to apply acoustic treatment to the auditorium, but this will be expensive so we'll try another solution.

The best you can hope for regarding excessive reverberation is to minimize the problem. And the way to do this is to consider the angle of distribution of the speakers - you'll find it in the spec sheet.

Then, angle the speakers so that they are throwing sound at the audience, not at the walls and ceiling.

Walls and ceilings reflect sound very well, causing reverberation that is often excessive in places of worship. People however absorb sound quite well.

The other problem is that for the front rows of the audience, the sound is coming from above their heads.

The standard solution is to use additional small speakers low down, at a low level, just to cover the front rows. This solution works quite well.

Raising the speakers all the way to ceiling level will take quite a lot of installation effort and therefore cost money. A 'halfway house' situation is simply to raise them as far as you can, paying due regard to safety of course.

If you do this, you will achieve benefits even without additional small speakers. The front rows will receive 'off-axis' sound from the speakers, which will not be of the best quality. However the overall compromise should be acceptable and much better than the problems you are having now.

Like, follow, and comment on this article at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram or the social network of your choice.

Come on the Audio Masterclass Pro Home Studio MiniCourse - 60 great hints and tips to get your home recording studio MOVING

It's FREE!

Get It Now >>

Electric guitar - compress before the amp, or after?

How to choose the best key for your song

What is comb filtering? What does it sound like?

NEW: Audio crossfades come to Final Cut Pro X 10.4.9!

What is the difference between EQ and filters? *With Audio*

What difference will a preamp make to your recording?

Watch our video on linear phase filters and frequency response with the FabFilter Pro Q 2

Read our post on linear phase filters and frequency response with the Fabfilter Pro Q 2

Harmonic distortion with the Soundtoys Decapitator

What's the best height for studio monitors? Answer - Not too low!

What is the Red Book standard? Do I need to use it? Why?

Will floating point change the way we record?

Mixing: What is the 'Pedalboard Exception'?

The difference between mic level and line level

The problem with parallel compression that you didn't know you had. What it sounds like and how to fix it.

Compressing a snare drum to even out the level

What does parallel compression on vocals sound like?

How to automate tracks that have parallel compression

Why mono is better than stereo for recording vocals and dialogue

Clipping and compressing a drum recording to achieve an exciting sound texture

What can we learn about room acoustics from this image?

Can you hear the subtle effect of the knee control of the compressor? (With audio and video demonstrations)

What is the best studio microphone?

What is the Neve sound? (Using the Slate Digital FG-73)