Any time you go to a concert, a movie premiere, a business conference, or even a graduation ceremony there is a vast array of audio equipment all working in unison to provide the auditory experience for the event. Larger events will have a team of people making sure everything is running properly. Smaller events might have one or two sound technicians handling the audio gear.
No matter what size the event is, the people running the show can’t do much without high quality audio equipment. If speakers are crackling, mics are cutting out, or monitors aren’t working properly there isn’t much even the best audio engineers can do to save the event. So, it’s incredibly important to have the right gear and often techs need to rent much of the required pieces. Before we get into the specifics of audio equipment and audio equipment rentals, let’s talk about why having top notch audio quality can make or break almost any event.
Sometimes you’ll notice when an event has exceptional sound. You’ll notice if it has terrible sound quality. And often, unless you’re an audiophile, you won’t notice the sound quality at all. And, if you’re the event planner, that is not a bad thing. People expect good sound quality at a concert. After all, they’re paying to be there. So much of the time, no news is good news in that area. It’s not hard to understand why the quality of the sound is important for any live music event. After all, people are there to hear music and want it to sound good. But why is it so important for other events?
It’s all about communication. Let’s say you’re hosting an event for human resource professionals. You’ve got a large stage in the main room then several smaller rooms for breakout sessions and group meetings. Even though this isn’t an event based around an audio experience like a concert, the sound is how the information is being communicated to the audience. And the audience is full of people who paid to be there to learn about various aspects of life in HR. So, if the audio is cutting out or the speakers can’t be heard then that’s a problem. You also don’t want the speaker to sound overdriven and scratchy because you’ve got the volume levels off. There are many different aspects to an event like this that make it a success. Making sure that people can communicate what they need to in a clear and professional way is one of those aspects, and it is a key component to a successful experience for the attendees.
What if you were at a graduation event and you can’t hear the names of the students as they are announced and walk on stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas? Or maybe you were able to go to a movie premiere and they had a really cool stage setup, but the music was cutting in and out? No matter what the event, bad audio can take what should have been an amazing production and make it look like a poorly planned disappointment.
To ensure you’re able to get the high-quality audio we’ve been talking about it comes down to choosing the right audio equipment. That doesn’t always mean getting the newest and most expensive gear. It really comes down to getting the right equipment for the event you are putting on. Here are some of the key pieces of audio equipment you’ll want to consider for your next event and some advice on specific models to get the next time you are in the market for any AV equipment rentals.
Before you start thinking about the brand or style of microphone you need, first you want to think about the way your event is set up. Will the speakers stand at a podium or will they need to be on the move? Is the stage set up for more of a roundtable discussion? Maybe you need to be able to transition between both. Know what your speakers or presenters are expecting to make sure you are set up properly for them.
If movement is not necessary then a wired mic is your best option. The Shure SM-58 is the industry standard stage microphone used by musicians and stage performers around the world. It’s a classic and is known for being one of the most dependable mics on the market. If the speaker will be going into the audience to take questions or as part of the performance, then a wireless microphone would be best. Shure and Sennhiser offer great handheld wireless mics.
If your speaker or performer plans to be on the move and/or needs their hands to be free you’ll want to look at lapel mics, which are known as lavalier microphones. They clip on to the speaker’s shirt and there is a small transmitter that can go in the speaker’s pocket or clip to a belt. As with the handheld wireless mics, Shure and Sennhiser are great brands for lavaliers.. Additionally, make sure you have any stands and cables necessary for the mics you are using which can be added on to any microphone rental.
Any medium or larger sized venue used to host events will more than likely have an in-house PA system. This refers to the gear that pushes the sound out and includes the speakers. If your event is at a smaller venue that doesn’t have their own system, then you will need to look at a sound system rental. A basic self-contained PA system with its own stereo amplifier, a built-in mixer with multiple channels (for multiple mics) and a couple of speakers with stands. They are pretty much plug and play: hook your mic up, connect the speaker, plug it in, and go.
Obviously, you’ll need to adjust levels and choose a good location for the speakers. But these systems, like ones from Roland, are very simple to operate. Sometimes a venue will have a modest system but allows for add ons. So, if you feel you need a more robust sound to fill the room and the house PA system allows for it you can just focus on speaker rentals to ensure the sound is great for the whole room.
Soundboard and Mixer
For venues with a house PA system you’re going to want a soundboard and mixer. These will be more complicated than the self-contained systems listed above so if you’re going this route and you’re not experienced with audio you’ll want to hire an audio technician. The soundboard, also called a console, and the mixer take multiple sound inputs like microphones or music sources and balance the sound and mix the levels into an even and pleasant overall sound. Avid makes highly dependable audio consoles and Yamaha is a reliable brand for effective audio mixers. Both are great options for any sound equipment rental. Additionally, if the venue doesn’t have stage monitors, the speakers on stage that allow the presenter to hear themself, you’ll want to add those to your gear list as well.
Processors and Effects
If you want to really up your audio game you can get into things like processors and effects. The processor improves and optimizes the overall quality of the sound. It uses compression and equalization to fine tune the audio and allow for a richer and fuller sound. An effects module will allow you to add things like reverb, echo, delay, or other effects to enhance the experience for the audience. Effects modules aren’t always necessary for many events but can elevate others if the fit is right. Lexicon and Yamaha make high quality processors and effects.
The world of audio engineering is complicated and nuanced but understanding the basics of how audio systems for events work will help you properly plan your next event. Having the right equipment is a huge part of putting on a high-quality event as well. Many venues have much of the equipment needed but oftentimes they don’t have it all or the quality you may need. Consider renting the best audio equipment from a reputable audio rental company like On-Stage Rentals, especially if you’re looking for audio rentals in Los Angeles. With On-Stage you’ll get everything you need to ensure the sound at your next event creates an incredible and memorable experience for everyone.