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Well, I took a knife to a gunfight last night, and I don't want to get stuck in this situation again. Played an outdoor festival with my band (8-piece horn group); large covered area, 70'x120', open sides. Unfortunately, the guy who booked the show and said we would bring PA didn't understand the capabilities of my club rig; to make a long story short, I show up with a pair of basic JBL 1x18" subs and Yamaha Club series mid/high cabs on poles for a gig that needed 4-5x that much. Not even close to having enough for the space. We survived the night and the promoter seemed satisfied, but the band on the other stage just made us look like amateurs in comparison.

 

Here's the question: What is the best option available today for a portable club system that can handle an outdoor festival show like this? I'm not going to go to the level of pro touring sound - our normal gig schedule is mostly smaller venues and private events that don't require that much - but I want to have enough to handle a large hotel ballroom, convention center space, small outside "tent" space, etc. Meanwhile, I don't want to be carrying around ridiculous amounts of equipment for the smaller shows.

 

So, I'd like to stay with something that's basically 1 or 2 main cabs on each side and a couple of sub cabinets (maybe 4 eventually). I know that doubling what I have isn't going to get me there and still sound decent, so I really want to go up in quality and SPL capability, but without sacrificing the ability to fit into a smaller space and sound good at lower levels. Of course, it should still be easy enough to move and set up that I don't add to our gig timeline.

 

Primary use is the aforementioned 8-piece band; we have trumpet/sax/'bone, and 4 vocalists. We're already running 5 monitor mixes, with some wedges and some in-ear. Amps/EQ/Xover, etc. are not an issue - I have plenty now, and get get more as necessary, though it would be nice to stay in two amp racks (one main, one monitor).

 

Am I looking for a unicorn, or is there a reasonable way to approach this that isn't going to cost $10K+?

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Well, I took a knife to a gunfight last night, and I don't want to get stuck in this situation again. Played an outdoor festival with my band (8-piece horn group); large covered area, 70'x120', open sides. Unfortunately, the guy who booked the show and said we would bring PA didn't understand the capabilities of my club rig; to make a long story short, I show up with a pair of basic JBL 1x18" subs and Yamaha Club series mid/high cabs on poles for a gig that needed 4-5x that much. Not even close to having enough for the space. We survived the night and the promoter seemed satisfied, but the band on the other stage just made us look like amateurs in comparison.


Here's the question: What is the best option available today for a portable club system that can handle an outdoor festival show like this? I'm not going to go to the level of pro touring sound - our normal gig schedule is mostly smaller venues and private events that don't require that much - but I want to have enough to handle a large hotel ballroom, convention center space, small outside "tent" space, etc. Meanwhile, I don't want to be carrying around ridiculous amounts of equipment for the smaller shows.


So, I'd like to stay with something that's basically 1 or 2 main cabs on each side and a couple of sub cabinets (maybe 4 eventually). I know that doubling what I have isn't going to get me there and still sound decent, so I really want to go up in quality and SPL capability, but without sacrificing the ability to fit into a smaller space and sound good at lower levels. Of course, it should still be easy enough to move and set up that I don't add to our gig timeline.


Primary use is the aforementioned 8-piece band; we have trumpet/sax/'bone, and 4 vocalists. We're already running 5 monitor mixes, with some wedges and some in-ear. Amps/EQ/Xover, etc. are not an issue - I have plenty now, and get get more as necessary, though it would be nice to stay in two amp racks (one main, one monitor).


Am I looking for a unicorn, or is there a reasonable way to approach this that isn't going to cost $10K+?

 

 

I run the LiveX series...two 15" tops and 18" subs, and it kept up with a Cerwin Vega stack on the main stage to about 200-300 people. They make a passive variant of the speakers, plus a dual 15+horn. Something like that with powered monitors (the ELX112P's) would probably fit the bill. I love them for the price and have gotten nothing but compliments. That would probably be my suggestion, others will recommend Yorkville, who also makes great products for the price.

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Well, I took a knife to a gunfight last night, and I don't want to get stuck in this situation again. Played an outdoor festival with my band (8-piece horn group); large covered area, 70'x120', open sides. Unfortunately, the guy who booked the show and said we would bring PA didn't understand the capabilities of my club rig; to make a long story short, I show up with a pair of basic JBL 1x18" subs and Yamaha Club series mid/high cabs on poles for a gig that needed 4-5x that much. Not even close to having enough for the space. We survived the night and the promoter seemed satisfied, but the band on the other stage just made us look like amateurs in comparison.


Here's the question: What is the best option available today for a portable club system that can handle an outdoor festival show like this? I'm not going to go to the level of pro touring sound - our normal gig schedule is mostly smaller venues and private events that don't require that much - but I want to have enough to handle a large hotel ballroom, convention center space, small outside "tent" space, etc. Meanwhile, I don't want to be carrying around ridiculous amounts of equipment for the smaller shows.


So, I'd like to stay with something that's basically 1 or 2 main cabs on each side and a couple of sub cabinets (maybe 4 eventually). I know that doubling what I have isn't going to get me there and still sound decent, so I really want to go up in quality and SPL capability, but without sacrificing the ability to fit into a smaller space and sound good at lower levels. Of course, it should still be easy enough to move and set up that I don't add to our gig timeline.


Primary use is the aforementioned 8-piece band; we have trumpet/sax/'bone, and 4 vocalists. We're already running 5 monitor mixes, with some wedges and some in-ear. Amps/EQ/Xover, etc. are not an issue - I have plenty now, and get get more as necessary, though it would be nice to stay in two amp racks (one main, one monitor).


Am I looking for a unicorn, or is there a reasonable way to approach this that isn't going to cost $10K+?

 

 

If these gigs are 1 off's or only a couple times a year really best bang for your buck is going to be hook up and get comfortable with a capable tech with a proper system figure that cost into your price and call it a day. If you really want to cover this yourself and do it right your stated omg number may not even be enough.

 

With that being said I run a PRX rig I have 4 625's tops and 4 xlf's subs. What I can tell you is in my experience when I go outside I am happy with my rig. Although I do run out of gas sooner than I would like in some cases on the bottom end. My bands I am directly quoting my experience are a party rock type band, think buck cherry, def leopard etc and a driving country rock band think big and rich or Miranda Lambert. Again more than happy on top but could use maybe 4 more on the bottoms outside.

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If these gigs are 1 off's or only a couple times a year really best bang for your buck is going to be hook up and get comfortable with a capable tech with a proper system figure that cost into your price and call it a day.

 

Well, we have a really good tech (actual training background, not just a "buddy") that's latched onto the band and works well with us. Trouble is, he doesn't own a rig yet, so we've come to an arrangement with him running my stuff. What you siggest is an option - and I might decide to go that way. Part of my thinking, though, is that upgrading the quality of the mains can only be a good thing for all of our other shows. While I think we are more than competitive with similar acts around town, I'd like to take it a step higher.

 

If you really want to cover this yourself and do it right your stated omg number may not even be enough.

 

That may be OK - the higher our tax rates go, the more the deduction is worth to me.;) Seriously, it's not really an "omg" number - just a first pass thought as to what the gigs are worth to me vs. depreciation.

 

With that being said I run a PRX rig I have 4 625's tops and 4 xlf's subs. [...] Again more than happy on top but could use maybe 4 more on the bottoms outside.

OK - that's the sort of rig I can go price out and take a look at. 4 on a side is right at 10K, and I'd be able to pull cash out of existing amps and cabinets (not much, but every bit helps).

 

How do the PRX differ from the SRX and VRX, aside from internal power? How much more of a pain do you find it to have to run power and signal lines to stacks, as opposed to just speaker lines?

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I run the LiveX series...two 15" tops and 18" subs, and it kept up with a Cerwin Vega stack on the main stage to about 200-300 people. They make a passive variant of the speakers, plus a dual 15+horn.

 

 

I'm not sure how this would be much more than what I have now......am I missing something?

 

 

Something like that with powered monitors (the ELX112P's) would probably fit the bill.

Not doing anything with monitors right now - we're fine in that area.

 

That said, my past experience with EV has been very good......hmmm.

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For an area that is 70x120, I would bring at least 4 SRX 725s and 4 SRX 728s. 10K is possible on the used market if you don't mind used gear and having to move heavier speakers. There is a guy near me selling 4 Community SLS 960s for 1200 each. They are pretty efficient speakers. Old school Crown Ma amps and Crest amps can be found for dirt cheap now a days. There is no portable system that can handle 70x120 decently without a trailer or box truck involved. I bring out two trucks to my big outdoor gigs; One for my trailer and one to tow the genie.

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Others here have said that the PRX618sXLF is roughly equivalent to the SRX718. Based on what Oldschooler recommends, that means 8 ("at least") 618sXLF subs. New, that's getting close to your $10K budget without any tops. Mark C.

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I think I would start out with 2 SRX 725s and a pair of PRX 618, since you already have the amps. Being a horn and vocal band your bass requirements may be less than others require. If that doesn't cut it, you can add more, but I think I would rent instead, unless you plan on doing a lot of these type of shows.

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Well, I took a knife to a gunfight last night, and I don't want to get stuck in this situation again. Played an outdoor festival with my band (8-piece horn group); large covered area, 70'x120', open sides. Unfortunately, the guy who booked the show and said we would bring PA didn't understand the capabilities of my club rig; to make a long story short, I show up with a pair of basic JBL 1x18" subs and Yamaha Club series mid/high cabs on poles for a gig that needed 4-5x that much. Not even close to having enough for the space. We survived the night and the promoter seemed satisfied, but the band on the other stage just made us look like amateurs in comparison.


Here's the question: What is the best option available today for a portable club system that can handle an outdoor festival show like this? I'm not going to go to the level of pro touring sound - our normal gig schedule is mostly smaller venues and private events that don't require that much - but I want to have enough to handle a large hotel ballroom, convention center space, small outside "tent" space, etc. Meanwhile, I don't want to be carrying around ridiculous amounts of equipment for the smaller shows.


So, I'd like to stay with something that's basically 1 or 2 main cabs on each side and a couple of sub cabinets (maybe 4 eventually). I know that doubling what I have isn't going to get me there and still sound decent, so I really want to go up in quality and SPL capability, but without sacrificing the ability to fit into a smaller space and sound good at lower levels. Of course, it should still be easy enough to move and set up that I don't add to our gig timeline.


Primary use is the aforementioned 8-piece band; we have trumpet/sax/'bone, and 4 vocalists. We're already running 5 monitor mixes, with some wedges and some in-ear. Amps/EQ/Xover, etc. are not an issue - I have plenty now, and get get more as necessary, though it would be nice to stay in two amp racks (one main, one monitor).


Am I looking for a unicorn, or is there a reasonable way to approach this that isn't going to cost $10K+?

 

 

If you were well balanced, the lack of blowing the heads off the audience was probably a welcome relief for most of them. I would like to know what the dbc level you had at the back of the listening area. If I'm guessing your speakers right, you should have been getting up to 93 dbc in the back. I don't know about you, but I don't like listening to bands louder than that. (And that low a level is assuming there wasn't a roof to reflect lost sound back to the audience.) My largest tri-amp system runs about the same maximum levels. We use it outdoors all the time in spaces that large. (Mic'ing the drums and everything except for the Leslie. I hate mic'd Leslies. They don't sound right. Larger gigs outdoors will have me bringing both of my Leslies for the organ.) We're 6 piece with a full time sax man and I occasionally pick up the trumpet to help. (Indoors in smaller clubs, I don't mic the trumpet.) Loud is overrated.

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Sometimes having the larger system isn't about SPL, I like to have extra headroom and even coverage. I prefer not to run my gear hard.

 

 

It's also about lower distortion, better pattern control, better sound quality, etc.

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I can agree with that. But when the audience sits in the direct sunlight on a hot August Denver day in the 92 dbc area and avoids the 20 degree cooler shaded area at 115 dbc, they are voting with their butts for lower volume levels.

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I can agree with that. But when the audience sits in the direct sunlight on a hot August Denver day in the 92 dbc area and avoids the 20 degree cooler shaded area at 115 dbc, they are voting with their butts for lower volume levels.

 

 

This generally isn't the case with a quailty system and an operator to match. We aren't talking about 115dB in much of the listening area either.

 

I'm not a fan of an overly loud system either but I know enough about the industry, my clients and their customers to do right by them... even if it's louder than you or I prefer.

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My band had a similar situation a few years ago. I looked around and found a small sound company down in Lansing, willing to rent me a good quality system at a price I could afford, to cover an outside concert in a pasture (we performed on two semi-trailers). This was to cover 3,000-5,000. I had to drive a little over three hours round trip to get it and then again to bring it back, but it was worth it; made a huge impression. No way I could afford to buy it, nor would I have wanted to as our typical gigs at the time were 40-50. We didn't upgrade till our gigs were consistently requiring a larger and better system. Even then, we begged and borrowed till I had enough money.

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If you were well balanced, the lack of blowing the heads off the audience was probably a welcome relief for most of them. I would like to know what the dbc level you had at the back of the listening area. If I'm guessing your speakers right, you should have been getting up to 93 dbc in the back. I don't know about you, but I don't like listening to bands louder than that. (And that low a level is assuming there wasn't a roof to reflect lost sound back to the audience.) My largest tri-amp system runs about the same maximum levels. We use it outdoors all the time in spaces that large. (Mic'ing the drums and everything except for the Leslie. I hate mic'd Leslies. They don't sound right. Larger gigs outdoors will have me bringing both of my Leslies for the organ.) We're 6 piece with a full time sax man and I occasionally pick up the trumpet to help. (Indoors in smaller clubs, I don't mic the trumpet.) Loud is overrated.

 

 

Loud isn't the issue - at least not all of it. The trouble is:

 

1) You can't possibly get decent bass in a space that large with two cheap 1x18 subs. Even though we're a horn band, it's still necessary to have solid bass/drums.

2) The spread of a single pair of mid-high cabinets on either side of a 30-foot stage isn't up to the task of covering a 70-foot wide area. Big dead zones.

3) If you run those cabinets up high enough to reach to rear of the space, the area nearest the stage ain't getting much high end.

4) When you're across the road from a 70s funk band using a rented system starting with 6 2x18 subs, you have to have enough to at least get over their spill-over.

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The PRX system mentioned is a nice powered system. If you have amps, I'd go with JBL SRX722 / 725 (X2) over SRX718's (x 4) or the EV QRX version.

 

I have amps, though I would probably need to add one to run this setup. What are the reasons you would point to for selecting self-powered cabinets vs. separate amps?

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My band had a similar situation a few years ago. I looked around and found a small sound company down in Lansing, willing to rent me a good quality system at a price I could afford, to cover an outside concert in a pasture (we performed on two semi-trailers). This was to cover 3,000-5,000.

 

 

Yeah, but we have two more outdoor festival-type shows in the next 6 weeks, and another fairly large room that we play every few months. We don't need a touring rig, but we definitely need more than the average "{censored}-on-a-stick" for the corner bar.

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While I love the thump of the 718's I think that the JBL MRX 528 is a steal right now at $679. In multiples they put out some decent bass. Might be worth a look see. Andy can explain the science behind coupling.

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Well, we have a really good tech (actual training background, not just a "buddy") that's latched onto the band and works well with us. Trouble is, he doesn't own a rig yet, so we've come to an arrangement with him running my stuff. What you suggest is an option - and I might decide to go that way. Part of my thinking, though, is that upgrading the quality of the mains can only be a good thing for all of our other shows. While I think we are more than competitive with similar acts around town, I'd like to take it a step higher.




That may be OK - the higher our tax rates go, the more the deduction is worth to me.
;)
Seriously, it's not really an "omg" number - just a first pass thought as to what the gigs are worth to me vs. depreciation.



OK - that's the sort of rig I can go price out and take a look at. 4 on a side is right at 10K, and I'd be able to pull cash out of existing amps and cabinets (not much, but every bit helps).


How do the PRX differ from the SRX and VRX, aside from internal power? How much more of a pain do you find it to have to run power and signal lines to stacks, as opposed to just speaker lines?

 

 

I selected my PRX based on performance, value, weight and power consumption. The PRX is notch below a properly powered and tuned SRX system. However the key point there is properly powered and tunes. With the PRX JBL has taken care of that for you easy set up easy tear down. I go SL 16.4.2 into the subs then daisy chain either into the next sub or into the tops. I can be open the trailer and ready for sound check in 15 mins if I hustle and am in a room I know.

 

Never been a huge fav of the VRX so they never really crossed my mind. If I was going to go for a small array box in multiples I would most likely be looking db Technologies.

 

The power consumption on the prx is great. I can run my full rig full tilt on 1 20 amp circuit. Yes I prefer to use 2 and always grab 220 if that is an option but they just don't suck huge power. If you spend any time on the bar scene you know power can be very sketchy getting 2 circuits sometimes just does not happen. Ib the 2 years or so I have had the rig I have popped power 1 time.

 

The running of power and signal cables is the kind of each his own thing. Yes I have to run 2 cables but you can make or buy premade harness if you will runs of cable. I have some powercon loop through I use so I run a quad to each stack plug in 4 edisons they signal that I would normally patch in at amp rack. I have no issue with it but my neighbor Vinny D hates it. Really up to you.

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A few questions for you about "that other band". Do you know what they got paid for that gig? Do you know if the PA was provided for them? If it wasn't, do you know if it was theirs or did they hire out. Also, although I think you could "step up" to a better every day rig that would increase viable SPL and quality, I'd be wary of jumping into doubling up a system that you'll end up only needing a handful of times per year. It's just not a good investment.

 

If these shows are paying what they should for a quality band that's providing production to cover several hundred or more outdoors, then you're doing a diservice by bringing something that's not appropriate. If they aren't, however, then they are relying on those willing to spend more than they make to provide what's appropriate. It's a catch 22. Based on those economics, the show "deserves" an underwhelming PA for the situation, but at the same time you're the product so it's understandable that you want to look and sound your best.

 

My 2 cents is to upgrade to a better speakers on poles over subs system and rent or hire for these larger shows, understanding if they don't pay much and you want to sound good it may eat a good bit of your pay day. But better to play for near free than pay $10,000+ up front and hope for the best. If there is a good rental option in the area, see what they have available then decide if it makes sense to build your new FOH around those speakers so when you rent you have like boxes.

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My FOH is Unity15's over LS800p's great for indoors and I did a small outdoor event and got lots of compliments about the sound. In the future if I need to, I can rent and double up, to 2 - U15's over 2 - LS800p's for $150. Pretty cheap to double up. I bought my all my speakers in 03, so I'm thinking of picking up a new pair of U15's and relegating my current ones to backup. Then if I needed to, I'd only have to rent a pair of LS800p's to double things up. ($75.00)

 

It wouldn't be full on AC/DC at Wembley but I think it would still be respectable in your situation.

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A few questions for you about "that other band". Do you know what they got paid for that gig? Do you know if the PA was provided for them?

 

 

I'd bet they got more than we did, and I know that it was hired sound - it was a full festival rig set up for a 3-day weekend. I won't be spending enough to keep up with a "big rig" - just enough so that we can sound as we should for these outdoor deals and large ballrooms.

 

 

I'd be wary of jumping into doubling up a system that you'll end up only needing a handful of times per year. It's just not a good investment.


If these shows are paying what they should for a quality band that's providing production to cover several hundred or more outdoors, then you're doing a diservice by bringing something that's not appropriate.

 

 

I don't want to get into too much detail, but suffice it to say that I can justify $10K additional based on what we're getting paid. Corporate events, weddings, festivals, occasional club gigs - decent-paying venues pretty much all the way around.

 

If there is a good rental option in the area, see what they have available then decide if it makes sense to build your new FOH around those speakers so when you rent you have like boxes.

 

 

 

Good thought! That would certainly make adding amps/stacks a LOT easier.

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It depends IMHO.

 

If you play more often for 150-250 inside than you do for 250-500 outside, then a good powered PRX system (2xPRX612 over 2xPRX618sS-XLF's) is a great setup and likely rent-able locally if you want to double up on larger gigs.

 

If you play more larger outside shows, I would go with 4xSRX722 over 2 SRX728.

 

There is a HUGE difference in size between these two rigs (and price), but then, there is a HUGE difference between covering 250 people inside vs 500 people outside.

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