Some “Sound Advice”

Some “Sound Advice”

It’s a given that your meals will have utensils or the tables will have chairs, but will your band have enough sound?

That’s not always quite a given and yet is an important detail to not have overlooked. What really goes into deciding what is sufficient sound? At EPIC Entertainment, we have some “sound” advice in deciding whether your entertainment will be able to provide enough sound, or if we may have to consider adding more.

When considering how “much” sound is needed, we always start with the basics. How many attendees are you expecting? Size matters! Most bands (underscoring “most”) come with the ability to cover sound for up to 350 people. Some bands less, some more. Solo entertainers may only have enough sound to cover 150 people. DJ’s, on the other hand, usually have the ability to cover sound for upwards of 500 people, possibly more. So knowing the size of your audience is important when deciding if your entertainment is bringing enough sound.

Next, we look at what type of event you’re having. Is this an intimate cocktail reception where sound from the entertainer is basically kept to background ambiance only? Or, is this a dance band? Are we expecting sound to just cover the dance floor area or are you wanting to draw in participants from the back of the room, as well? If you’re thinking only sound for the front we will follow up by asking if your your CEO plans to speak, or if there are going to be awards given out, in which case we will need sound to cover the entire room.

Also keep in mind: not all “entertainment” provides their own sound. This will need to be factored into your budget. Magicians, comedians, even some performing look-alikes, for instance, will need to have sound provided. At EPIC Entertainment, we make sure to go over these possibilities ahead of time.

Understanding sound distribution is an important element in ensuring the “right” amount of sound is provided. For those events where sound is expected to be carried to the back of the room, speakers on the stage may not be sufficient. In those cases, sound needs to be “extended” by supplementing with additional equipment. We at EPIC Entertainment have a vast knowledge for options and resources where additional sound needs to be added in addition to what a band’s own sound can handle.

Location, location, location is another very important factor. For indoor venues we like to consider absorption. Hard surfaced or heavily glassed areas will not absorb sound the same as the interior of a ballroom, which is already equipped with padded sound walls.

An indoor “no-no” for entertainers (whether a band or a magician or even a solo musician) is what is called “house sound.” It’s tempting to save money by using the built-in conference room speaker system that is far overhead from where your guests are sitting. Remember those uneven and raspy high school announcements over the PA? Just as you wouldn’t serve a fine meal with plastic utensils, you’ve already invested money in the talent; don’t compromise the quality of your event by foregoing a professional PA system.

Outdoor locations introduce other sound considerations. Again, the size of your event and how much of that area you want your participants to be able to hear is paramount in deciding on sound.   As an example, let’s consider an event on a beach. With a wide-open space for sound to disperse it’s important to decide how much of your event you want covered with sound. In those cases supplementing what a band can provide is encouraged.   Sound that is supplemented with additional speakers also helps to spare those seated in the front being from being “blasted” with sound so that the attendees sitting at the back of the event can hear. It is very important to strike a balance when ALL the sound is generating only from the stage.

Speaking of stages, the “style” and location of a stage is important to the distribution of sound, as well. Seating “in the round” has become a very popular room set-up. Keeping in mind that some of the instruments cannot move (think drums) some of your guests will have no choice but to watch the back of a performer. Here too, where the speakers are located is important. Sure, you may only have 250 people and the band can cover 350, but their equipment can only face in one direction. It’s important to consider supplementing sound for this type of set-up so that you make sure the sound is truly going “around” the room.

It may not seem to be a factor in considering sound, but the expectation of having an entertainer “move” from one location to another (reception to dinner for instance) is an important factor to consider and plan for ahead of time. A popular thought is to have a few musicians “play outside then move in for dinner.” That type of request will require more than one sound system. Not all bands have additional equipment and if they do, consider the time that is required to make such a move. Entertainers will charge an extra fee for “moving.” Thinking of avoiding a second sound set-up fee by having only one or two pieces play outside unamplified? Make sure you know the instrumentation of your band ahead of time. Not all pieces sound as great unamplified (even acoustic instruments can use amplification) causing you to not accomplish the “mood” you were hoping to achieve. The saxophone is a better instrument than guitar to go unamplified, but you need to make sure ahead of time that instrument is an option with your band

Finally, last but NOT least…what are the restrictions of your venue? Is there a time curfew that music can be played? Is there a DB restriction (decibels)? Some cities do not allow outside music past 10pm. Some hotels restrict outdoor amplification to a certain decibel. Make sure you have thoroughly vetted your destination so your event doesn’t inadvertently get “unplugged.”

At EPIC Entertainment, we are not just about “booking the act.” Making sure to understand the scope and technical needs of our clients’ events is integral part of our service.   We make sure to hear your needs and to make sure your guests hear the great talent you’ve hired!


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