Live sound is just like booking the gig, tuning your guitar, or finding the place your supposed to play: just another problem to solve on the path to the perfect gig.
Let’s start with an example of a sound system for a dance band at a wedding. The band is guitar, keyboard, bass and drums and every one sings except the drummer. There are 500 invited guests and the reception is being held in a rectangular banquet hall of about 4000 sq ft. At a wedding the music needs enough volume to energize the dancers, yet there will be relatives and friends who haven’t seen each other in forever and want to talk. The gear we’re going to use is rented from the Doo Wop Shop here in Lexington, but similar equipment is available at any music equipment store or online from Musicians Friend and many others. Affording the gear if you don’t have access to a reasonable rental shop is a whole different blog post!
3 Shure SM58 microphones
3 Shure SM57 microphones
1 Yorkville M810 powered mixer
1 Yorkville MP6D powered mixer
2 Yorkville YX150 speakers
2 Yorkville YX12 speakers
All this rents for around $150 for 7 days, around $4000 to buy.
Each vocalist gets an SM58, on a stand in front of them. One SM57 is set in front of the guitar amp, one in front of the bass amp, one goes in the kick drum. The mixer (M810) sets up close to the side of the stage, if you are fortunate enough to have a friend to act as sound tech. If not, set it onstage so that some multitasking band member can adjust levels. The keyboard player is usually the best bet, since they can adjust levels with their left hand while still playing most of the notes.
Try not to stick the drummer with the job since the song stops when the beat does and the mix is impossible to hear accurately from behind the drums. At least two band members will need to walk out front while the rest of the band plays to get an idea of the the house levels. Remember; what you hear on stage isn’t the same thing they hear out front.
The M810 has 8 channels, each with an XLR or low impedance microphone input. Using 7 XLR microphone cables, connect each microphone into a channel on the M810. I like to use the first 3 for vocals, left to right, guitar in 4, Keyboard line in on 5 (using an instrument cable), bass on 6, Kick drum in channel 7. No real reason other than I’ve always done it this way and this consistent organization makes it easier to remember which knob controls who’s volume.
The speakers set up on stands in front of the stage, one to either side out of sight lines and well in front of the closest microphone to avoid feedback. The speakers plug into the outputs in back of the M810 with two 50’ speaker cables.
The MP6d powered mixer sits close to the M810, but can go on the floor since we won’t use it’s controls much. An instrument cable runs from the monitor out jack on the front of the M810 to channel 1 on the MP6d. We then run one speaker cable from the output on the back of the MP6d to the first monitor speaker which is placed on the stage between the keyboard player and the guitar player aimed more or less up at their faces.
Another speaker chord is run from the parallel out on that speaker to the other monitor speaker which is placed between the guitar player and the bass player. A simple power amp can be used for the monitor speakers, but the MP6d doesn’t cost much more and it’s the same rig we use for vocals in rehearsal.
There you have a sound system set up which should rock the wedding party right on into the honeymoon!