Equipment\Gear Needed To Open Small Music Venue?

DriftingByTheStormDriftingByTheStorm Posts: 8,568
edited January 2013 in Musicians and Gearheads
Okay.
So. Pipe dream alert here.
Looking at a place in town that is up for rent.
About 2300sf (so they say, looks smaller to me, but that included a mens and a ladies room i guess).
There is a large-ish stage already build (something near 25-30ft wide, and 10-ish deep)
There are rafters in place to hang equipment, and actually the previous owners have lights mounted, PAs, there are floor monitors, and what appears to me to be a way-oversized board for the place.

Assuming i got this place, lets assume none of this equipment would stay.

What would the IDEAL (but budget conscious) equipment needs be for this venue?
I'm thinking fitting 100 people in this place is probably about as many (or more) than the fire marshal would allow.

I already know right off the bat from what I have heard around town ("sounds like poo poo", "too live", "lots of bouncing sound") that the first thing to blow money on is probably about $1500 worth of sound dampening fabric\curtains ... to be hung on all walls, and from the ceiling, I am assuming. If someone thinks foam is a better choice for either walls, or ceiling, speak now ... also maybe some bass-traps for the metal bands placed in corners.

Okay. Now that the dumb stuff is out of the way, realistically, what do i NEED to make this work?

My dumber-than-dumb assumptions:
*2 PA speakers (need these for vocals and for any DI instrument - ie keyboards - right?)
*2 Floor Monitors (i really think this is overkill in this space, but the artists will kill me without them, right?)
*Power Conditioner (a decent Furman, ??? need one for insuring the bands shit don't blow up, right?)
*Mixer - 12-16 channels (why would I want a digital mixer, and would i want a "powered" mixer??? confused)
*Some cables for microphones and a mic stand or two (just in case some dingbat forgets one?)

What else am I forgetting?
I know clubs often have a "back line" of equipment (like a bass cabinet, keyboard, drums, etc) but this is a small venue, and I would be booking small, hopefully non-needy, local bands that have their stuff locally and can just pop it in my club and pop it out.

I'm sure there is something i would want, need (besides dedicated 15amp circuits wired at the club) or what-have-you, but I can't think of it right now ... I mean, i will need some surge protected power strips as well ... but beyond that ??????????????????????????????

I keep visiting my favorite bar in town that does live music (on a very small scale) and this seems to be all they have. Actually, they don't even have floor monitors, just two PAs, a power conditioner, and a mixer. And they have a "emergency sound shut-off" red hand-button mounted to the wall that is hard wired to kill everything in case of an aural-emergency.

But WHATELSE???????
This is like <$5000K EASY, right???

edit:
also-
*stage snake
*some DI boxes
*power amp for PAs
???
Post edited by Unknown User on
- the powers that be left me here to do the thinkin’

Comments

  • mccreadyisgodmccreadyisgod Boise, IDPosts: 6,286
    1) What style of music? Acoustic, indie rock, metal, variety, etc.?
    2) Do you plan on running this yourself, get some idiot to run it, or hire a decent sound guy?

    Awaiting those answers, here are my thoughts based on what you wrote already:

    You are probably looking for horsepower over fidelity. That means we can set aside any aspirations for a flown line array and focus on some beefy, cheap ground stacks. My gut reaction says you should get a small 3-way system with two single 18" subs (one for each side) and two tops with 2x15" mids and a horn (one for each side). That should cover a 100-person club okay, and have the ability to run a full rock band without doing anything too crazy. If you could, I would double that (2x18" cab on each side and two tops per side) but you could always add to the system later; this is more about coverage than volume, so you can splay the speakers to cover the room more evenly. For main speakers, I would look at Peavey and Yamaha, or maybe JBL or EV. Peavey especially is a good fit, since they are pretty cheap and relatively bullet-proof. You can also replace components in the cabinets pretty cheap and easy if someone blows a speaker.

    You will need monitors. For a rock band setup, you will need two or three across the front, and a dedicated drum monitor. For louder music, you'll want a 15" woofer and a horn; for acoustic or milder bands, a 12" is plenty. You might think this is overkill, but if a musician isn't standing in front of a monitor, they can't hear it... you can't just throw a wedge in front of the lead singer and be fine. And things without amps on stage (vocals, keyboards, acoustic/electric guitars) will rely on monitors for stage volume. You could mess around with side-fill monitors, but wedges are probably just easier. My notes about main speaker brands from above apply here, too.

    The one place I would recommend spending some cash is the amps. Get decent amps and wire them right, and you will never regret it. Get enough amplification to properly power your speakers, maybe even a little more than they need; underpowering speakers can be more damaging than overpowering them. You will need to get a crossover for the main speakers. You can make the mains run on two amps (subs and tops), but if you bi-amped the tops, you'll get better results. Many tops are capable of running full-range or bi-amp, so that's a can you can kick down the road a bit. Monitors will need one or two amps, depending on the size and number of wedges/mixes.

    For the mixer, you can go cheap or you can go expensive. This is where it helps to know who is running this PA. If you just have some moron running it, who doesn't really know any better, then a small analog board is fine. If you have a decent engineer, though, a digital board might be worth it. The big issue is effects; specifically, compression and EQ, plus things like reverb and delay. A real engineer will know how to use these tools, but an amateur won't necessarily be able to. You could always get an analog board and add analog effects, but having it all in the mixer can be pretty convenient. And when you start adding up prices of all the pieces, the digital board can often be cheaper than the analog equivalent.

    You'll need some basic mics, at least four vocal mics (I'd get Shure SM58s), a few instrument mics (SM57s), a few DIs, and a kick-drum mic. For a 100-seat venue, you would probably mic the kick and snare but no other drums. You might mic up smaller guitar amps, but most amps will be loud enough. You will want to be able to mic/DI the bass amp, if it's too small. Then the unamplified things like keys, acoustics, vocals. You will need mic stands (which can be surprisingly expensive). And mic cables. And a stage snake. And extension cords. And a rack for the amps. And a dozen other little things that even I can't think of right now.

    A power conditioner would be a good idea for your mixer, but not important for the stage gear. Ideally, you would have a proper power distribution system off a dedicated 50-amp service that would supply power to the stage, the amps, and the mixer. Having everything on a clean, shared ground is necessary; grounding issues cause everything from hum and buzz to electrocution.

    You don't need any backline.

    If the stage lighting goes away, you'll need some lights. Not a lot, nothing fancy. I would highly recommend LED PAR fixtures, since they use very little electricity, emit no heat, and can do color switching without gels. You can get a few PAR 56 or PAR 64 lamps and some gel, but that uses a bunch of electricity and can get hot. I'm not a lighting expert, but I can give some simple tips.

    Any of these things you can find on the used market (eBay, Craigslist), go for it.
    ...and if you don't like it, you can suck on an egg.
  • mccreadyisgod" said:
    1) What style of music? Acoustic, indie rock, metal, variety, etc.?
    2) Do you plan on running this yourself, get some idiot to run it, or hire a decent sound guy?

    Awaiting those answers, here are my thoughts based on what you wrote already:

    You are probably looking for horsepower over fidelity. That means we can set aside any aspirations for a flown line array and focus on some beefy, cheap ground stacks. My gut reaction says you should get a small 3-way system with two single 18" subs (one for each side) and two tops with 2x15" mids and a horn (one for each side). That should cover a 100-person club okay, and have the ability to run a full rock band without doing anything too crazy. If you could, I would double that (2x18" cab on each side and two tops per side) but you could always add to the system later; this is more about coverage than volume, so you can splay the speakers to cover the room more evenly. For main speakers, I would look at Peavey and Yamaha, or maybe JBL or EV. Peavey especially is a good fit, since they are pretty cheap and relatively bullet-proof. You can also replace components in the cabinets pretty cheap and easy if someone blows a speaker.

    You will need monitors. For a rock band setup, you will need two or three across the front, and a dedicated drum monitor. For louder music, you'll want a 15" woofer and a horn; for acoustic or milder bands, a 12" is plenty. You might think this is overkill, but if a musician isn't standing in front of a monitor, they can't hear it... you can't just throw a wedge in front of the lead singer and be fine. And things without amps on stage (vocals, keyboards, acoustic/electric guitars) will rely on monitors for stage volume. You could mess around with side-fill monitors, but wedges are probably just easier. My notes about main speaker brands from above apply here, too.

    The one place I would recommend spending some cash is the amps. Get decent amps and wire them right, and you will never regret it. Get enough amplification to properly power your speakers, maybe even a little more than they need; underpowering speakers can be more damaging than overpowering them. You will need to get a crossover for the main speakers. You can make the mains run on two amps (subs and tops), but if you bi-amped the tops, you'll get better results. Many tops are capable of running full-range or bi-amp, so that's a can you can kick down the road a bit. Monitors will need one or two amps, depending on the size and number of wedges/mixes.

    For the mixer, you can go cheap or you can go expensive. This is where it helps to know who is running this PA. If you just have some moron running it, who doesn't really know any better, then a small analog board is fine. If you have a decent engineer, though, a digital board might be worth it. The big issue is effects; specifically, compression and EQ, plus things like reverb and delay. A real engineer will know how to use these tools, but an amateur won't necessarily be able to. You could always get an analog board and add analog effects, but having it all in the mixer can be pretty convenient. And when you start adding up prices of all the pieces, the digital board can often be cheaper than the analog equivalent.

    You'll need some basic mics, at least four vocal mics (I'd get Shure SM58s), a few instrument mics (SM57s), a few DIs, and a kick-drum mic. For a 100-seat venue, you would probably mic the kick and snare but no other drums. You might mic up smaller guitar amps, but most amps will be loud enough. You will want to be able to mic/DI the bass amp, if it's too small. Then the unamplified things like keys, acoustics, vocals. You will need mic stands (which can be surprisingly expensive). And mic cables. And a stage snake. And extension cords. And a rack for the amps. And a dozen other little things that even I can't think of right now.

    A power conditioner would be a good idea for your mixer, but not important for the stage gear. Ideally, you would have a proper power distribution system off a dedicated 50-amp service that would supply power to the stage, the amps, and the mixer. Having everything on a clean, shared ground is necessary; grounding issues cause everything from hum and buzz to electrocution.

    You don't need any backline.

    If the stage lighting goes away, you'll need some lights. Not a lot, nothing fancy. I would highly recommend LED PAR fixtures, since they use very little electricity, emit no heat, and can do color switching without gels. You can get a few PAR 56 or PAR 64 lamps and some gel, but that uses a bunch of electricity and can get hot. I'm not a lighting expert, but I can give some simple tips.

    Any of these things you can find on the used market (eBay, Craigslist), go for it.
    Damn, MIG knows his shit!
    And best of luck to OP! Keep us posted if you get this thing off the ground!
    We were but stones your light made us stars
  • @hewhoforgets ... Yeh. MiG has been settin me straight for years. He, pacoma, and a small handful of other real musicians are the backbone here. And they are a blessing.

    Speaking of which, @MiG ... Thank you SO much for your input and for taking the clearly substantial time necessary to write it all out.

    I think you nailed most of it n the head, even providing specific about things I didn't directly ask about but was very much directly confused over... ie. wiring circuits etc.

    I have only skimmed and will have to retread when not dog tired.
    One question regarding PAs and your comment re raw power vs clarity.
    Honestly, I wouldn't mind finding middle ground, but I AM worried about the existing allegedly BAD acoustics in this venue. Makes me think clarity may actually be the route to go. That and the aforementioned dollars and bills worth of sound dampening fabric.

    I can't find any info on these with relation to ROCK music but what do you know about them...
    http://raleigh.craigslist.org/ele/3462650323.html
    ?

    Would something like this get me a middle ground between power and clarity (or are these more suited for EDM and ass shaking?)

    Re the mixer ... I'm thinking it will probably be me unless the band brings someone.
    That means "some idiot" ... I can set levels, and have for home recording. i have little clue about eq, and with effects only with relation to guitar. but i have a good ear and learn quickish. And I know u think that is a bad plan sound wise, but I think it may be the only one that makes financial sense. To that point... I've been sending out emails/face books to anyone in the local scene who I think might listen. While I've gotten a lot of snubs,I've had a few incredibly honest and generous folks give me a piece of their mind. One of them basically told me that I should run away as fast as possible. I think those may have literally been his words. This is from a local band (and a damn good one,IMHO) member, and someone who a actually is booking for a club (a club owned by a record label, a label this guy is on with his band) ... He said the scene is overfilled with clubs, under filled with fans and bands, and that, quote, NO one is making money right now, bands or clubs. He also said their band was slowing to a virtual standstill. (one show a year in town) ... Honestly, if the band I think has the best talent in town is essentially slow fading the local scene because its not working, that doesn't leave me to optimistic, or willing to shell out for sound on top of talent.

    Actually I'm kinda getting bummed. I've heard this from more than a few people. At LEAST three clubs are shutting down around here NOW, and I'm still being told the scene is broken and won't support one new club to replace three.

    The only silver lining is that this space is essentially a small BAR that happens to have a stage. That means the space won't look empty even with a crowd of ten to fifteen. And I've read/Been told that ten to fifteen is worth having your bar open for. But not necessarily with a sound guy on staff. Also the bar that is closing that I am trying to partially emulate had sound run by the bartender (granted that bartender had been in a recording band)

    And first question ... Rock and indie music, with metal on the side. Both our metal clubs are shutting down this New Years and I want to help fill that void even if metal ain't my thang.

    I'll come up with more question/notions later.

    Thanks all.
    - the powers that be left me here to do the thinkin’
  • mccreadyisgodmccreadyisgod Boise, IDPosts: 6,286
    I apparently completely forgot to respond to the issue of sound dampening. It's not exactly clear from your posts what makes the acoustics of the room so notoriously bad. There are three main types of bad acoustics: 1) High sound levels make things in the environment resonate, causing things to rattle, buzz, and shake; 2) There are unpleasant reverberant characteristics, where you have hard, reflective surfaces creating slapback delay and/or bad reverb (as opposed to good, pleasant reverb, like in a good concert hall); and 3) The shape of the room creates nodes and antinodes in key frequencies, causing things like bass traps or lack of clarity. All three can be combated by maximizing direct acoustic energy to the audience while minimizing energy at the walls. Funny enough, people (a crowd) can be the best sound dampeners out there, since people are essentially standing bags of water. You can do things like build DIY bass traps or acoustic panels. On the cheap, you can try to find used cubicle walls, as they make excellent sound absorbers; barring that, you can put a 1/2-inch sheet of upholsterer's foam on a sheet of 1/4-inch plywood, and then cover the whole thing with a scrap of carpet and hang that on the wall. If you have really hard wall surfaces (sheet glass, sheet metal), this is especially helpful. If you have a lot of rattles and stuff in the room, you can wander around with a screwdriver and caulk gun and try to tighten or dampen everything.

    As for the fidelity vs. volume question, I would focus on volume for one primary reason: you can get much more bang for your buck. This becomes very important when you are pushing a system near (or past) it's limits: if you have a cheaper system that is capable of higher volumes, it will be less likely to exceed it's capacity and throw a driver. If you get something snootier, but with less output, you will end up pushing the system too hard and blowing up speakers. You could, of course, get speakers that sound great and are very loud (Clair Bros! Meyer! Adamson!), but then you will need a very large loan which you will never be able to repay. Get something that is solidly-built, sounds good enough, and can be repaired cheaply and easily.

    Which brings me to those Klipsch speakers. Not a bad find. They would probably work for a while, maybe even a year or two. Put a single 18" sub under both of them, and it would be a solid system. Parts might be tougher to come by, but you could basically just run them until they break and then upgrade. 400 watts apiece isn't exactly a lot of power for the room you are describing, and I don't know how the frequency response is, so I can't say with confidence how well they would work, but I bet they would get the job done for a while. My only concern is for the really loud bands, because they may very well overpower those two speakers on their own. Your PA has to be at least as loud as the loudest thing on stage, be it a snare drum, full-stack guitar amp, or a big bass amp. Even if all you ran through the PA is vocals, it might not be enough. And I would always want enough PA to put a little kick drum in the mix.

    If you could get an actual soundguy involved, you would be much better off. But I don't know if you can justify paying for a good one. Sometimes you can find the right guy who knows some stuff and just wants to be near the scene, and so will work for peanuts. If you can find a guy who knows an XLR connector from a hole in the ground, you may want to get him/er involved earlier rather than later; imagine buying a guitar, amp, and pedals, and then hiring a guitar player to use them... it would be better to get the input of the guy who will be using the stuff. But, just as Hendrix would sound amazing with a Stagg guitar plugged into a Gorilla amp, so will a decent sound guy be able to work with what you can afford.

    Now, for the more esoteric theme of "what the hell am I getting into here?" Getting a club up and running is tough. There is virtually no money in the club scene. The money that does exist comes primarily from the bar. You at least have a bar, so there is potential. I've seen it done many ways, from little warehouse spaces with no PA, to nicely designed spaces with acoustical architects and professional sound installations. And it often seems like the smaller, grungier, gnarlier spaces survive; a lot of this is the smaller expenses, but some is just the scene they thrive on. A DIY club that puts music, bands, and fans first will do much better as a venue than a club that is more interested in serving $8 drinks. Hell, CBGB's was a dive bar with a crap sound system. But this is also the distinction between the bar band scene and the indie club scene. Also, you need to decide if it's a venue that also serves drinks, or a bar that also has bands. You need to know the bands and their fans, and maybe you can eventually create a scene. If you want to make money, find a different way. But if you want to get bands to play and fans to listen, you might break even. Personally, I feel like the key to the whole idea is the creation of a scene, a self-sustaining ecosystem that brings bands and musicians and fans back to the venue repeatedly, even if it's a lackluster bill.
    ...and if you don't like it, you can suck on an egg.
  • DriftingByTheStorm" said:
    Okay.
    So. Pipe dream alert here.
    Looking at a place in town that is up for rent.
    About 2300sf (so they say, looks smaller to me, but that included a mens and a ladies room i guess).
    There is a large-ish stage already build (something near 25-30ft wide, and 10-ish deep)
    There are rafters in place to hang equipment, and actually the previous owners have lights mounted, PAs, there are floor monitors, and what appears to me to be a way-oversized board for the place.

    Assuming i got this place, lets assume none of this equipment would stay.

    What would the IDEAL (but budget conscious) equipment needs be for this venue?
    I'm thinking fitting 100 people in this place is probably about as many (or more) than the fire marshal would allow.

    I already know right off the bat from what I have heard around town ("sounds like poo poo", "too live", "lots of bouncing sound") that the first thing to blow money on is probably about $1500 worth of sound dampening fabric\curtains ... to be hung on all walls, and from the ceiling, I am assuming. If someone thinks foam is a better choice for either walls, or ceiling, speak now ... also maybe some bass-traps for the metal bands placed in corners.

    Okay. Now that the dumb stuff is out of the way, realistically, what do i NEED to make this work?

    My dumber-than-dumb assumptions:
    *2 PA speakers (need these for vocals and for any DI instrument - ie keyboards - right?)
    *2 Floor Monitors (i really think this is overkill in this space, but the artists will kill me without them, right?)
    *Power Conditioner (a decent Furman, ??? need one for insuring the bands shit don't blow up, right?)
    *Mixer - 12-16 channels (why would I want a digital mixer, and would i want a "powered" mixer??? confused)
    *Some cables for microphones and a mic stand or two (just in case some dingbat forgets one?)

    What else am I forgetting?
    I know clubs often have a "back line" of equipment (like a bass cabinet, keyboard, drums, etc) but this is a small venue, and I would be booking small, hopefully non-needy, local bands that have their stuff locally and can just pop it in my club and pop it out.

    I'm sure there is something i would want, need (besides dedicated 15amp circuits wired at the club) or what-have-you, but I can't think of it right now ... I mean, i will need some surge protected power strips as well ... but beyond that ??????????????????????????????

    I keep visiting my favorite bar in town that does live music (on a very small scale) and this seems to be all they have. Actually, they don't even have floor monitors, just two PAs, a power conditioner, and a mixer. And they have a "emergency sound shut-off" red hand-button mounted to the wall that is hard wired to kill everything in case of an aural-emergency.

    But WHATELSE???????
    This is like <$5000K EASY, right???

    edit:
    also-
    *stage snake
    *some DI boxes
    *power amp for PAs
    ???
    Good luck with your endeavor! And way to support your original music scene.....


    So what state will this be located?
    E. Lansing-98 Columbus-00,03,10 Detroit-00,03 (1&2),06 Cleveland-03,06,10 Toledo-04, Grand Rapids-04,06 London-05, Toronto-05, Indianapolis 10, East Troy, WI (1&2) 11, Chicago, IL 13
  • gimmesometruth27gimmesometruth27 St. Fuckin LouisPosts: 12,870
    i read the list yesterday and did not remember if someone said you need a DI for the bass or acoustic instruments.
    "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."- Hemingway

    "i'm not here to start the fire. i am here to fan the flames..."

    "Honesty is a very expensive gift. Do not expect it from cheap people." - W. Buffet
  • FrankieGFrankieG Posts: 6,029
    A liquor license ;)


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