Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Sound Systems

Planning an event — any event — should ideally be fun, easy and free of surprises. Unicorns and daisies all around, right? This applies to lining up the awesome live entertainment so vital to making a great event great.

So let’s say you’ve nailed down the coolest venue ever, got your drinks and appetizers selected, festive decor is good to go, invitations sent. All that’s left on your checklist is the big one you’ve been putting off as long as possible: booking a band. Yet somehow, the stars align. You find that perfect pop duo or funky Motown cover group. The act you want is available. They’ll perform for $100 less than your music budget. They’ve even agreed to accommodate your boss’s weirdly insistent request to play “On the Wings of Love.”

Via @MadMen_AMC

Seems like everything’s good to go, right? Well, maybe. But if you haven’t given any thought to sound gear, you could be setting yourself up for a nasty letdown.

We’re the first to agree that music can be absolutely magical. But not magical enough to get a room rocking without the help of some pretty serious technology. You need a very specific collection of electronic gear to do that job, along with someone who actually knows how to set everything up and operate it.

The PA system, also known as Front of House/monitor system, is not the same thing as musicians’ personal instruments and amps. Mixing console. Power amps. Microphones and stands. XLR cables, DI boxes, fraznobulators, whizzbangs, the list goes on and on.

We know, we know. This is way too much to think about. The good news? You don’t need to become a live audio expert. All you have to do is make sure you have one there on the big night.

EVAmore’s Sound System Checklist:

  • Does the venue I’ve chosen provide sound equipment and a sound engineer? If the venue has musical acts performing on a consistent basis, it’s likely that they already have a decent stage and sound equipment. In the negotiation of your venue rental fee, it’s super important that you ask for the sound system and engineer to be included. If you bring this up as part of the negotiation, a venue manager will often just include these items in your package.
  • Does the band own or provide their own sound equipment? If the venue isn’t providing the sound, ask the band upfront if they can. Smaller acts like acoustic duos or trios don’t generally require a huge PA system, so often they bring their own. Larger groups may have a trusted sound partner that they always use (we promise, this will always be a more cost effective option).
  • Remember: Sound production is a separate cost from the band. You need to consider this when thinking about your entertainment budget, so make it one of your first questions rather than one of the last. For an acoustic duo, you might be looking at an extra $50, but for larger productions the sound gear and engineer can easily add another $1,000 or more. Standard stuff, totally necessary, but if you’re new to this world it might not occur to you.
  • Have you heard about Sparkplug? They’ve done a great job of automating the sound equipment rental process online, and should be able to help you solve all of your sonic needs not being handled by the venue or band. Check out this great resource at sparkplug.it.
  • EVA Event Tip: When you post an event on EVAmore, we always prompt you with questions designed to avoid oversights, misunderstandings and unhappiness in general. Sound equipment is just one example.

Remember, at EVAmore, our mission in life is to make your life easier. Less headaches. More daisies and unicorns. Better music. Hopefully this checklist helps.

Questions? Hit us up at eva@evamore.co. We’d love to hear from you. #trustEVA