There’s no doubt that stellar audio equipment is the most important aspect of any concert. Putting together an exceptional show involves using quality equipment and sound experts who can create the ideal setup.
How do you create the ideal live concert experience every time? By creating the optimal audio setup to project music to every corner of the room and immerse the audience in the concert.
From speakers to microphones and more, we’ll highlight what concert audio equipment you need to put on a spectacular performance.
Have you ever stood in the middle of a concert with your eyes closed and just listened? Feel the vibrations thrumming through your body and a crystal clear sound reverberating through your head. That’s the goal of any concert, and it starts with the sound system.
The right sound system equipment and arrangement can reach every audience member in the room and provide the same experience wherever they sit or stand. Setting up the stage to highlight the musicians and deliver the best possible sound ensures a happy audience.
You could use whatever mics, speakers, and amps you have on hand, but what if they don’t work well together? What if something fails? How do you connect everything and manage the sound throughout the performance?
Understanding how to set up your audio equipment and having quality pieces is crucial for delivering an outstanding performance. Creating a cohesive sound system that’s easy to operate and adjust makes life easier for the sound technicians and gives the performers more confidence in the show.
It’s often beneficial to hire professional sound engineers to set up the sound equipment. While hiring a professional isn’t cheap, it can save you a headache down the line and ensure your concert goes smoothly.
Most setups use the same equipment to create a cohesive experience and channel sound to every corner of the venue. However, depending on the performers’ preferences and any space limitations, you might be able to skip some components.
Every concert requires equipment to capture the sounds from performers and instruments, but microphone arrangements often come down to personal preference. Make sure that you select the proper microphones to meet the musicians’ needs in terms of frequency and polar patterns.
It’s a good idea to check with the performers to determine what microphones are required to meet their needs. There’s no point in arranging half a dozen handheld microphones if your performers prefer to wear headsets. Likewise, determining the best mic stands for various instruments and performers is necessary to create the optimal arrangement on stage.
Additionally, some microphones work better for instruments while others draw out crystal clear notes for singers. You can even choose some that deliver a vintage-like sound if that works with the concert. Professional sound engineers can help you make the best decisions for your show and ensure the components work well together.
Setting up speakers depends on the venue’s size and shape. You want to arrange speakers to reach every corner of the room so that the entire audience can experience the concert. Typically, you need an arrangement that includes top speakers and subwoofers depending on the type of music.
Don’t forget to consider the room’s shape and any obstructions that could alter the sound in some areas. Walls, enclaves, ceiling height, and floor material can all impact the way sound travels and require speaker adjustments to avoid dead spaces.
Amps help balance sound on a stage and that means having the right ones for each instrument. Plus, you need to be able to arrange the amps so that they don’t interfere with the microphones.
Choosing the correct amplifiers and setting them up requires knowledge of the equipment and how they work together. Sound technicians can identify potential problems that would diminish sound quality during a performance. Two of the most common issues are the feedback and degenerating cable jacks, and they often stem from pairing the wrong equipment.
A public address system is one of the fundamental components of any concert sound system. It enhances sounds so that they are audible over the ambient noise.
Keep in mind that PA systems require quality cables to form solid connections and deliver crystal clear sound from all instruments and microphones.
Note that PA systems are expensive to purchase, so many facilities run them down to their last legs. That means that you might need to prepare yourself to do some troubleshooting during the event.
Stage monitors can be invaluable tools for performers and sound engineers. They allow performers to hear themselves and alert sound engineers to any adjustments they need to make.
Monitors pose a challenge for sound teams because they can interfere with microphones and PA systems. It requires some skill and experience to balance the monitors with other live sound equipment.
Failure to set up the stage monitors properly can impact the entire performance. Musicians can miss the subtle cues they rely on for timing and harmonizing. It’s a good idea to step into the performer’s shoes to see what it sounds like on their end and make necessary adjustments.
No live sound equipment is complete without mixers. Mixing boards and digital audio workstations (DAWs) bring performances together and allow sound engineers to optimize input and output for a cohesive experience.
Mixing board capabilities vary, though most allow you to at least control volume, tone, and equalization. Smaller venues with few performers may require minimal boards, while larger ensembles and cavernous spaces need high-end components with multiple adjustable features. Some boards even have built-in sound effects to enhance performances.
Note that you can improve the overall sound quality by turning off any unnecessary channels. Turning off the signal to unused equipment reduces the number of signals to the PA system for cleaner, clearer sound. Just don’t forget to turn them back on when a performer is back onstage.
You could have all of the best sound equipment on the market and still fail a sound test if you don’t have proper wiring and cables. Not only do you need to have functional, quality cables, but you also need to have the right ones for each piece of equipment you use. It takes a bit of experience and know-how to master the different cables and connectors, and now how to troubleshoot any issues.
One of the most important considerations with wiring and cables is the arrangement to avoid tripping hazards, tangles, and other safety issues. If the performers move and jump around a lot, they need to know where the wires go and how much room they have with each mic or instrument cable.
Setting up live sound equipment for a concert can be a challenge because there are so many components that need to work together without overpowering another piece. Complex productions require more time, effort, and experience than a small venue with one or two performers. That said, the general plan should be the same for any concert.
Take stock of what you have and test everything to ensure it’s compatible and functioning properly. If you’re missing any equipment, you might want to call the venue to see if it’s better to rent from them or purchase it.
Don’t forget to double-check the compatibility of your equipment with anything you use at the venue. You might have to pick up adapters or alternate cables to make things work, but it’s better to do that in advance instead of running around the day of the event.
Speakers deliver sound throughout the venue, so set them up first to make sure they work with the space. Consider cord placement and access to power sources because you may need additional power cords to accommodate the arrangement.
Complete the setup and connect everything to the mixing board. All audio sources should go to the mixer, and some may have more than one connection.
Make sure that you clean up all the cables and consider using multi-channel pieces to reduce the number of wires you have on stage.
It’s important to be familiar with the mixing board and know how to use every feature before the show starts. When in doubt, it might be worth hiring a professional sound technician to manage the mixing board to ensure the show runs smoothly.
If only you could hook everything up and know that it’s good to go for the performance. You can expect to make several adjustments to get the sound quality where you want it.
Start by testing each instrument and microphone individually to optimize them. Then, have the performers play together to ensure they sound right. Make sure you ask the performers for feedback on what they hear as well as explore different parts of the room to mimic the audience experience.
People attend concerts for the sound more than anything else, so you need to showcase the musicians and craft a flawless setup. Aside from choosing the right equipment and optimizing the setup, there are several things you can do to ensure a smooth live performance.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your arrangements. While you need to appease the performers, it’s okay to experiment and try different things to optimize the sound for a better audience experience. After all, a happy audience is the goal of every live concert.
Managing sound for a live concert isn’t easy. There are multiple components with plenty of room for a piece of equipment to fail. It’s a challenge to select the right equipment, create a cohesive arrangement, and troubleshoot any issues before and during the show.
Planning and organization are crucial to creating a cohesive arrangement that works for your performers, sound technicians, and audience. Spending extra time on equipment setup and testing could save you time and trouble down the line.
Of course, you could always hire a professional to handle the live sound equipment from setup through the event. At LIV Technical, our professional live sound technicians know how to highlight musicians and manage troubleshooting so that you can focus on other aspects of the concert.