What the Band Knows: How’s Your Place Sound?

A trio version of the KM4 recently did a fundraiser with a "Beatnik" Theme - hence the funny hats.

A trio version of the KM4 recently did a fundraiser with a “Beatnik” Theme – hence the funny hats.

There are a lot of factors that go into a band sounding great versus merely good. For a band like ours, playing a lot of classier weddings and nicer corporate events, most are intangibles – how the individual members are feeling that day, whether or not they got sprinkled with Miles Davis Magic Fairy Dust, etc. One thing that is very tangible is acoustics. Sometimes a room becomes that extra musician, singing right back at the players, and it is inspiring. A trio version of the band (with a special guest, percussionist Martin Weir, aka “Dr. Drum”) played an unassuming little rec room that was part of a church, and man, it was an absolute sonic joy. We could hear ourselves, the room acoustics garnished us with a nice dressing of reverb, and the audience would not shut up about how great we sounded (not that we would discourage that kind of thing anyway …).

Is the room you're looking at holding your event "great sounding"?

Is the room you’re looking at holding your event “great sounding”?

But in the last six months we also played two other places that were wonderful in every way – great staff, great clients, etc. Alas the rooms weren’t conducive to a great audio experience, and where we were told to set up exasperated the situation. One place – absolutely wonderful, but with the word “windows” in its name – is infamous with musicians as a challenging environment. Huge room, tall ceilings, handsome brick walls, deep beautiful wood floors … and previously referenced windows. Lots and Lots of them. The floor sucks up the low end and the glass reflects everything else, slapping everyone in the process. Now if we had been consulted, we would have pointed out that playing in the corner out would have been a great option. But typically when we play there we’re told to play in the middle. Any band or DJ would struggle there.

Related, we were called back to a new hip place in town to play a wedding right after we did a corporate holiday party. This big ballroom was wonderful to play, and the first time we played there we got a nice stage on one of the sides in the middle playing out to the crowd. The stage allowed us to move the speakers higher so the sound could carry further without blasting those seated closer. Alas the second time we played, they stuck us in the corner of the table-filled room. I pointed out that there was a perfect spot in the center back, explaining my reasoning, but alas the event planner was not interested in what seemed to him like the nuanced world of acoustics. So we set up in the corner, but in order not to blast those sitting near us, we played at a volume where more then half the room could not hear us.

No Playing on Stage

Where ever we “play” we always sound good –

So when you’re planning your wedding or event, ask the hall manager about where bands usually play followed by a question about the acoustics of the room, how it sounds. Then, run it by the band or DJ you hire. Show them the diagram of the room, and get their input. After all, since you have the good taste to hire a great live band, your guest may as well be able to hear them!

(Part of the reason I’m so adamant on this topic is my day gig is a writer, and one of the magazines I’ve been senior writer for since 2002 is a pro audio magazine, FOH.)

To be clear a good band with quality pro equipment can work in any environment, and we do. But with a couple of extra queries and a conversation on the topic with your musical act, you can get that musical magic you so richly deserve!

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