Not sure if you need a sound system? Or what to expect when you hire an external sound system for your live band or event? Here's a comprehensive list of factors to help you decide if you really need those additional equipment.
1. Firstly, get to know your venue. Is it indoors or outdoors?
An outdoor event is more likely to require a sound system set-up than an indoor event. Holding it in an open area means there won't be much walls or reflective surfaces to contain the sound - and that means having a good sound system will help your live band (or speaker) project their music, or voice, to your targeted audience.
An outdoor event can be held in an intimate alfresco dining place to the scale of an outdoor concert in an open field. Having your music in an outdoor venue will definitely require a solid sound system. Your live band is competing against many factors - wind noise, crowd chatter, perhaps the blast of music from another venue. All this can take the attention away from your live band, or preventing your audience from hearing them clearly. Also do note that setting up sound system at an outdoor area will require more resources such as manpower and cables, due to exposure to the weather and also limited power sources at an open area.
Holding an indoor event is a more manageable affair with regard to having a sound system - however, you will need to consider the size of your venue. Are you going to be holding your event in a small-sized private room for 50 to 60 guests, or will it be at a hotel ballroom where you are hosting 500 to 600? This brings us to our next point:
2. What kind of indoor venue is it?
Congratulations! Assuming that the guest list would be kept to a minimum (less than 20 people), you will probably not require a sound system in such a compact area. Instruments that will amplify by itself without sound system requirements are like string quartet, guitar, harp, saxophone, violin, flute, piano and etc. Keyboard and other electronic instruments will most likely require amplification even if its in a small venue.
Function Rooms / Cafés / Pubs / Restaurants
Many wedding couples or party organisers are now choosing to hold smaller scale, intimate events at dining venues such as The White Rabbit or Nosh - which will definitely require some sort of sound system set-up. Most of these restaurants (if they regularly hold events) will have a simple set-up for playing back CD music, and maybe a couple of wireless microphones for speeches. However, there is usually no suitable sound system to cater for your live band. In this case, it would be necessary to hire an external sound system to support the live band, as well as to project the music to your guests.
Hotel ballrooms usually have their own sound system set-up to support speeches and simple background music. Other than events, most of the time these PA systems in hotel ballrooms are made to support conferences and basic to their users. At Merry Bees, our sound system and production crew is operated by our sister company, SoundCubs Productions and these competitively priced rentals are inclusive of the band's backline rider (i.e. musical instruments, monitor speakers, necessary vocal/instrument microphones etc). Check with your hotel if they're comfortable and if their PA system is suitable for allowing band plug in to their system, and more importantly, is, if, their technicians are actually trained to handle live bands? The last thing a client want is to pay a thousand dollars or more for a good live band have muffled or distorted sounds coming from tiny coned speakers made for conferences instead of live band support.
3. How many guests are you expecting at your event?
The more guests you have, the more likely you will need to hire a sound system. (You need to project the sound to more people over a bigger surface area and overcome their speaking volumes, right?) If you have less than 20 guests in a small, compact area, you probably can afford to do without the sound system. However, if your guests are going to be scattered over a bigger area, you will probably need to consider hiring a sound system. For small rooms with less than 60 guests, a compact AER system will suffice for a solo to 2-person band. For ballrooms with less than 250 guests, we recommend at least a 2 Front-of-House speakers system with additional FOH speaker for every additional 100 guests at your event.
4. What is the band's configuration and instruments?
If you simply require some live background music as a classy addition to your event, having a string duo or quartet may not require additional sound system, as long as the venue is not too big (less than 100 guests). If you're looking at other instrumentalists, or a vocalist, a sound system is required to support their performance to project their music to the audience.
We hope you found this useful for planning for your event! These are some of the factors that you may want to consider when deciding if you will need a sound system.
When in doubt, don't forget to consult your event planner, venue coordinator, or live music provider. Give us a buzz and we will schedule a site recce if necessary. All these will help to ensure that your event goes smoothly without a hitch. All the best!
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