Live Sound 101

If you run a live show with audio such as a rock concert, DJ, theatrical play or a variety show you need to get your sound out to your audience.

Let’s take a quick look at what a live event sound system is and how it functions differently from your home stereo system.

A home stereo typically has speakers and an receiver also called an amplifier. This receiver has two main functions. One the home stereo receiver powers the speakers over speaker wire so the speakers can generate sound. A receiver’s second function is it controls which of the connected devices like a CD player, Tuner or a Blue Ray player you are outputting sound.

Okay most of you know this stuff but it’s necessary everyone is on the same page before moving up.

Let’s talk about live sound set-up which fewer people understand.

The concept is similar to a home stereo, one big difference is that each of the speakers have their own built-in amplification. Live concert or PA speakers are therefore in general larger, heavier and more costly than home speakers. The nice thing is you have an all in one speaker that has its own perfectly matched amplification onboard and ready to rock.

The mixer or sound board is the heart or traffic director of all the audio played in that room during your event. A home unit typically has 3-5 inputs for say CD, VCR, Tape Deck etc, a professional mixing console ranges from 8-124 inputs often called channels. Why so many? In live sound you may have bands and that’s where many inputs or channels becomes a necessity. A guitarist, a bass, a keyboardist, each vocalist takes a separate channel. A drummer takes up usually a channel for each drum and cymbal, averaging 8 inputs alone for a drummer. Try mixing an orchestra in and you can quickly see where 124 inputs will come in handy!

All these channels can individually be controlled to be live (turned-on) or muted (turned-off). Each channel also has its own extremely detailed controls of how that specific channel sounds and where it is outputted (to which speakers). All these channels are going and producing sound simultaneously and handled by your Sound board hardware and your hired sound technician. You can see with the complexities how important good equipment and professional operators are imperative for a great audience experience.

If you are an artists who likes to self run their show how do you get your audio from a headphone jack to this complex live system? This little beauty pictured here does just that, and it’s the smallest and best solution for a traveling entertainer.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published