How do you set up a sound system for a small concert?

My band is going to play a show at a local park. How could we set up a sound system?

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Re-design7 years ago
You need to find an experience sound guy to help you until you know more about what you're doing.  A good sound guy can make your band sound as good as it can sound or set things up badly and make even a great band sound bad.  How's it gonna sound if your bass guy can't hear the lead and the lead can't hear the drums?  How's it gonna sound if the vocals are too low and the lead is too high?

Check this link and then google "set up public address system" or " set up band sound system" and look at everything there is.

You need a guy/girl to run the sound even if they don't know much.  You still need a person to be on hand to adjust things when you find out that something needs adjusting.  Very bad form for the lead to quit playing and go offstage to tweak an knob.  What happens if the wind blows over one of your speakers (seen it happen).  Don't expect the audience to fix it.  That's what a sound guy is for.

Good luck - Wish it was my band playing instead of yours!  Wish I had a band instead of you!  Wish I could play good enough to be in a band instead of you!  Can you tell I'm kinda jealous?

Need a good sound guy?
Seconded. Also:

Will the venue be providing sound equipment and someone to run it? If so, you just need to give them your stage plot and any special requirements.

If not: What kind of music? What instruments and how many of them? That makes a difference; miking a chorus can be very different from miking four vocalists. (Yes, I know the preferred abbreviation is "mic", but I've never liked it.)

Will AC power be available? If not you need to think about running off batteries, or batteries and an inverter, or a generator...

In an outdoor venue, monitors (so you can hear each other) may actually be more important than the mains.

(At some point I need to revive my "sound 101" website. It was focused more on folk/acoustic than rock/electric, but I was trying to cover the basics of what the typical equipment is and how to use it. It went away when the site that was hosting it changed servers...)
billericaboi (author)  orksecurity7 years ago

The music is screamo/emo type stuff. There will be me (clean vocals), screaming vocals, lead guitarist/screaming vocals, rhythm guitar, drums, and bass. There isn't any sound equipment already there, but I've seen bands play there before.

Outside my range, then. I could probably make something work, but not as well as someone who actually likes and has experience working with that style.

If forced to cope with it, I'd put an SM58 in front of each vocalist, mike your guitar/bass amps with more SM58's or SM57's (I presume you wouldn't be willing to work with direct inputs; most electric guitarists consider their amp part of the sound of their instrument), and not bother putting mikes on the drums because they're almost always plenty loud enough by themselves. That's five inputs, so you'd want an eight-channel board, main speakers, amplifiers (you can get amplified boards or amplified speakers), monitor speakers if you want 'em (highly recommended), a snake from stage to wherever you're going to set up the board (assuming it will be out where the sound tech can actually hear what's going on and make reasonable adjustments), XLR cables for the mikes, speaker cables, cables from snake to amps (if separate), mike stands, speaker stands. Heavy power cables. If there is ANY chance of rain, the board wants to be under shelter, and so do the amps (and so do you and your equipment, of course). 

First, find someone who knows what to do with the equipment. They can sanity-check this, and tell you where you can rent it locally. They may have their own preferences in microphones; they may recommend additional equipment such as a cheap reverb or a feedback-killer. (Some outdoor stages are hellishly bad in the latter regard; they were designed for un-amplified performances so the designers considered resonance a _good_ thing.)

Before you do anything else, check whether the venue can/will provide sound equipment. Or, if anyone else will be on stage that day, you and they may be able to share at least part of the setup and costs, and the sound crew.

Good luck. Have fun. Don't be offended if the sound tech wears earplugs while mixing for you, to bring the volume back down to a non-damaging level.
lemonie7 years ago
What equipment do you have to set up?

L