Newbie, looking to get into the game.

Discussion in 'Live Sound' started by RyanG, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. RyanG

    RyanG Guest

    Hey ya'll, Im Ryan from Western New York and Im looking to set up a pro audion and lighting system to do sound/lighting for the local band scene. The locals here deserve much better than they are getting now. Im just wondering if I am in the right forum to ask for advice on getting the proper set up.

    So far Im thinking of going for a presonus studiolive board and other than that its all in the air. Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Also with being new here but not new to forums I appologize if this isnt in the proper area. I think it is but may not be. :twisted:
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    I think your first step is to figure out what your safe max channel count is. If 16 channels is enough then along with the Presonus Studiolive you should consider the Onyx 1640 and several of the Yamaha boards such as the 01v96 or a couple MX line. If you need more than 16 sticks then you get to figure out what is good in the 24 stick count. I would make sure I had allowances for live recording even if it's just the 2-bus.

    Lighting. Well I never got into the squint business so I won't be much help there but light boards come in various sizes as well so you have to figure out the maximum number of cans you might need since it's always easier to use less than add to a maxed out board. Now you get to by trusses and light stands and wire and another power distro and ........

    Now once you figure out what you need and how to buy it, you're gonna need to find a coupla guys named Guido and Bubba to help haul this large amount of gear around. And a truck.

    If this is to be a pro business then here's the deal:
    1) write a business plan with gear list and investment/reinvestment schedule.
    2) do not try to go cheap. Get the gear you need and don't cripple yourself by trying to "get by."
    3) plan on reinvesting and upgrading and maintaining your gear too.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    Well, we don't do lights. We record in the dark. Alexander Graham Bell had nothing to do with Thomas Edison. And Thomas Edison had nothing to do with Mr. Westinghouse Who believed in alternating current. Whereas Thomas Edison believed in direct current. Tesla was from another planet entirely. Mr. Watson come in here I need you, because the dummy spilled acid on himself.

    Now you know everything you need to know. But if I were you and I'm not, I wouldn't invest in a new digital mixer right out of the gate. Start with the basics called analog. So that you understand how everything works. Then you can move up to lights. Once you've got that down, you can purchase yourself a multitrack digital recorder to go with your analog sound system & laptop. Once you've become proficient with all of that, then you can start looking at all of those digital thingies since they are not as intuitive to use. Don't worry about specifications. It's a phalus see? People Think I Don't Know Dick Cheney and They Would Be Correct. But specifications in all of this stuff is moot because all of this stuff is made from the same stuff. You change a resistor here and there and that changes the specifications. It all works. It all works well & well enough to become competent with. I'm an old-timer that started with toy equipment and worked my way up. That's another reason why I have a better understanding than most. You don't start with a Formula One race car when you learn how to drive. You start with an old beat up Chevy. Because that's the smart way to start. You get to learn what you need to learn. Don't be fooled by fools.

    I'm the real bitchin' deal
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  4. RyanG

    RyanG Guest

    Thanks for your reply John! I do plan on doing this as a business. I have a band all lined up, when I get myself set up, for regular gigs. They are looking for a full time guy to integrate into their shows, rehearse with the band etc. Ive got a plan in my head to help subsidize them with some other things.

    Do you have any magazines, books, websites, etc. that I can research and learn more about doing live sound?

    Eventually I would like to have a recording studio either in house or in a stand alone building.
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    It's hard to recommend specifics when I know nothing about your experience. I mean I don't know if words like TT or Elko or Phoenix or TRS or XLR or Speakon mean anything or not.

    Remy is a wealth of knowledge in the no BS get it done sort of way. She jokes a lot but has been there and done that in live sound/broadcast/recording. Don't let the Neve consoles fool ya. She probably could get it all done on a Behringer board almost as well.

    I started out the same way working live sound in no fail situations. At that time it was a 56 channel FOH and a 48 channel MON console. And lots of opportunities to MacGuyver things together since in the Marine Corps you never have everything you need, but the Generals and the Band Officers just don't care. Recording came later as a complimentary effort and a means to satisfy the classical musician inside. Now I don't do much live sound at all, just concert recordings.

    It's hard to get that kind of experience from a book or as a hobby. If you are going to put your name and reputation on the line then you really do need to be ready for prime time. If you don't really have any live sound experience then you may need to intern with someone as well as con any band you can into letting run their gear.

    The best reference I know (other than your equipment manuals and experiences) is the Sound Reinforcement Handbook by Gary Davis. There is no substitute for hands on time with cables and mic's and killing feedback and finding hum and dealing with band egos and.......
  6. MadMax

    MadMax Distinguished Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:

    You're talking live... You should pop down to sheet's corner of the world in the Live Forum

    Not to burst your bubble, but why are you looking at pro-sumer junk if you're trying to give them something so much better?

    Look at pro gear such as Midas, Digico, ShowCo, Digidesign, and Yamaha for consoles. A decent console and a decent line array along with a good monitor rig would be the minimum I'd start with.

    For lighting, start with a Janz and some Leprecon or ETC dimmers. Thomas truss is about as good as it gets, IMHO. Snag a dozen movers, 4-6 dozen pars and a coupla' hazer's, with a half dozen or so good chain motor's and you're in business.

    I'd say a budget of $150-$200k should do ya, if you buy new and you're looking at standard small rig stuff.
  7. RyanG

    RyanG Guest

    Well first off sorry for posting this on the wrong board. If a mod would move it to the live sound board I would appreciate it.

    Secondly I just want to say that although I'm happy to be getting some feedback I guess I need to post my budget and the size venues we should be discussing. We need to be talking about a set to do small shows very small probably were talking about a couple thousand square foot clubs that even the largest show will only hold a couple hundred people tops. Ill be looking to spend between 10 and 15k to get going. Basically I want to do something small but do it in a professional way. I don't wan to walk in with the typical mackie console and peavy monitors that were bought twenty years ago and call it good enough. Plug in eight cans with gels and set them to blink and call it good enough. I'm just looking for some guidance on what to get to do very small stage shows with decent equipment one a relatively small budget, something to where the sound man can work with the band to cooperate and put on the best show we can with what we have
  8. MadMax

    MadMax Distinguished Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    OK, you're looking for club gear, not concert venue stuff... my bad.

    I'd look at Midas Venice, A&H GL2800-ish type consoles. A smallish 8 box/4 sub system for mains. Some decent outboard for processing and cut the lighting in half.

    Be sure to look at the situation of running monitors from FOH and whether the console you pick will have enough auxes to handle mon's and still give you aux's for FX. In single console situations, I'd get a minimum of 8 auxes, but 10-12 would be a better situation. Also, get enough channel strips to handle two bands for a quick changeover. Otherwise, you're looking at two consoles/systems... one for FOH and one for Mons.
  9. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    I see you are from Cuba, how was the tornado?
  10. RyanG

    RyanG Guest

    It was all huff and no puff. Where are you at?
  11. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Moderator Resource Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    Welcome to RO Ryan.

    I'm from western PA and I'm familiar with your area. I used to work up there quite a bit in the 90's.

    You say that the acts in your area, "deserve much better than they are getting now", that's certainly an admirable reason to take up the cause.
    However, you have to look at this as the business it is, or you're just going to be throwing good money down the drain.

    Having a budget number to work with is nice, but you'll have to consider the source on the advice you'll get here. There are folks here who wish they had your budget, and think they're swimming with the sharks, when they're really just wading in the koi pond. They'll tell you to buy whatever bargain basement crap they have, but more of it, - so in the end you'll have the biggest pile of crap ever.
    On the other hand there are folks here who have way more than $15k tied up in mics, AND more than that tied up in flightcases, AND more than that tied up in cables. These guys and gals got to where they are by their skills not their gear, and they decided to re-invest in themselves with more/better equipment. - But ironically sometimes they have a hard time remembering what it was like not having a budget for Grade A equipment. So take everyone here, including me, with a grain of salt. I'm not standing in the koi pond, but I'm not doing arena shows like Max either. I'm happily somewhere in the middle, with a system that would be very capable at a large club, or very comfortable doing a small outdoor venue with/for a couple thousand people - at a sensible volume.

    Try to get a feel for what camp the posters are in before you let anyone turn your head completely around. Some newcomers get frustrated with this and leave, but if you think for a second and apply their POV to your situation, you can still learn something from just about anybody no matter where they're at on the ladder. Keep asking intelligent questions and the whole gang here will sincerely try to help.

    Now let me ask you couple pertinent questions before I throw in my 2 cents about your specific situation.

    Do you currently own anything relevant to this project?

    Do you see this as a hobby or a full-time profession?

    Do you have any idea what these local bands are paying for light/sound now?

    Can you give me any idea what kind of gearlist these other sound companies are using now? - so I can gauge where you're aiming.
    Mixer / amps / speakers are mostly what I'm interested in.
    Effects / mics would all be bonus information.
    And since you want to provide lights, you'd better get some info on light controller + dimmers + number / wattage of PAR cans and effects lights.
    If you ask, most sound/light guys don't mind if you check out their system during a break - as long as you don't touch anything. Most of them are quite proud of whatever they have and will tell you more than you wanted to know about their systems - if they're not busy.

    Do you have any experience (marketable skills) running sound & lights?
    [there's more to being a guitar player than just purchasing a guitar -
    and if there were varying degrees of truth, that would be 10x more true of PA/lights]

    Do you know anything about electricity?

    Do you have a truck, van, mini-van, cargo trailer, anything to haul a system? junkyard school bus, bread truck, ambulance, hearse - I think I've seen it all.

    What style of music will these bands do? What instrumentation?

    Will they have an opening act?

    If it's like it was in the 90's I know in your area typically it's one band (without an opening act) doing 3 x hour long sets + breaks, roughly 10pm-2am.
    Is that the kind of gig you envision 99% of the time?

    Do some homework and check out the competition. Get on the net and see how much these other guys have invested in the core of their system, (mixer / amps / speakers). But be aware that for every dollar they've invested in the pretty boxes you see sitting on stage, there is probably another 50 cents tied up in the unglamorous necessities like racks, direct boxes, cables, cases, & stands.

    I have dozens of other questions I would want you to consider before diving in, but that's enough homework for now; Ready, Set, GO!
  12. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Moderator

    Feb 23, 2005
    Well, as one poster mentioned, we have NO idea as to your background and experience. Tracking down a bad cable on a dark stage with a flashlight and a pissed-off crowd of rowdy, impatient drunks is certainly trial-by-fire. I recomend you start off hooking up with one of your local production companies, band(s), or even a decent-sized church to do some volunteering. This will help get some experience under your belt, and not just dealing with the gear, but dealing with the people as well. Sometimes that is the hardest part of this business. And having to deal with gear that is NOT the best on the market will force you to deal with all sorts of issues that can crop up as a result of this. Like they say, if it doesn't kill you, it will make you tougher (or something like that).
    What kind of a budget did you have in mind?
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    moonbaby is obviously not delivering doughnuts on another planet. And I've rarely heard any other dog as articulate as Dave dog. This whole business is an addiction and a money pit. Kind of like sushi & wasabi. Two of my favorite friends. The fish that is. The other two guys are certainly professionals and I am a working girl, or so to speak.

    I've got to get my tailgate fixed
  14. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    A couple of other things to consider....

    If you get into this game with one band and that band breaks up are you going to be able find the next band to use your services or are you going to have to go looking far and wide? How alive is the concert scene where you live? How many different bands and how many different venues? The reason that no one else is providing the services you want to provide is that there may not be any money or growth opportunities so they are keeping their expenses in line with what they expect to make.

    A lot of bands will say things like "we love to have you do sound and lights for us" but when someone cheaper comes along you are history. If the band will not sign a long term contract with you then you may be in for a very nasty surprise when they dump you three months down the road.

    You have to figure in all your time and expenses versus what you can realistically expect to make. If you spend 10 to 15K and you want to amortize that over a 5 year period that means you have to bring in between 2 and 3K per year just to cover the equipment costs which seems do able. But if the bands you are doing want more then you will have to spend more and get them to pay more for the increased expenses. Are they going to want the the Surf and Turf ala carte menu but want to pay McDonald's budget meal prices for the services you provide? What happens if you get two bands and both have a concert on the same night at different venues? If you put all your eggs in one basket what happens if the band starts breaking up or doing less shows?

    A good business plan with well thought out answers to really hard questions is the place to start. You need to do a lot of "what if's" and "how do I do this" type of questions before you spend a dime on equipment.

    If you are going to go the semi pro route for most of your equipment are you aware that much of this equipment is not designed for rough handling and 8 to 10 hours days and that it is more suitable for a home studio than life on the road? We record about 20 concerts a year. Most of our gear is high end prosumer or pro and we have problems with connectors, with noisy pots and with the normal wear and tear. I can't imaging what problems we would be facing if we were using Behringer some other less than quality equipment.

    I can only wish you the best of luck but do some serious thinking before writing the first check. You have already gotten some GREAT advice from people in this business so now do your homework and answer the hard to answer questions and I think you will be fine.
  15. DrGonz

    DrGonz Active Member

    Jun 24, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Just don't go up in a "Great White" puff of smoke! Seriously know your limits and try to understand the bands you're booking and what they want. And I am a fool cuz I really nothing after the glow of Pink Floyd.
    And only reason I reply now... Cuz I just wanted to say I don't know Dick cheney or Chevy Chase, but George Burns once made fun of me/friends at Subway. He said we looked like a bunch of girls w/ long hair.
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    If you are NOT paying attention to the excellent advice given so far then heres your next step. Get a shovel. Any one of several from Ace will do. Go out in your yard and dig a nice hole. Put you money in it. Cover it up. Go to Wendys for some chili.

    Business plan. Review of business plan. Research your areas venues. If its one band how many places have a house system? How many of those are going to allow you to mix on their junk? Or run their lights?

    Not the situation?

    What venues do you plane to bring your gear into? Do they have adequate power capabilities for a set of lights and a PA? Do you have any knowledge of electricity? See, you were already asked that. Why? Cause its important. Lets say you spend a couple of hours schelling all your gear into a tight stage situation and you're all setup. You plug into the stage recepts and then the band gets in and sets up under you. The FIRST note all the power goes out. WHY? Do you know? Its your job to fix it now before the riot breaks out and people want their 5 bucks back at the door. Those happy guys at the door arent going to like you much. Neither is the band.

    Theres a lot more to this business than meets the eye. The main reason is the really good sound and light companies do their thing in relative anonimity. Yeah, the lights work....yeah the sound is on....The Band is playing.... i used to do this. I dont have the patience for it anymore. I had a small rig. Four hundred sweating people in a venue. Quad-Amped Jbl stuff....Yamahah...peavey on the mons...24 instruments in the lights...AND my very own set of mains from the panel! Gotta have em. I had about 30 amps from the power amps (all the guys with REAL rigs just laughed!!!) and 50 for the lights. And it was a small rig.

    I had a lot more than 15K in that setup. But it sounded great and looked real cool.
  17. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    Mar 3, 2006
    my father was born in Cuba NY !

    look into a few different systems so you have modularity and versatility. for example...

    a set of 15" speakers
    a set of 2x15" speakers
    a set (or 2) of subwoofers
    amps for each set of speakers

    this way you can mix and match based on the size of the gig. outdoors you'll need the 2x15" speakers w/sub, but for an indoor show at a small bar you can just bring along the single 15" speakers, ya know?

    oh hey also - if you're serious about putting together a system give me a shout - i work at the Guitar Center in buffalo and could hopefully save you a chunk of change.

    good luck!

    -dave g
  18. RyanG

    RyanG Guest

    Thanks for the advice. Im not ignoring it at all. But I have put in 43 hours at work in the last 3 days Ill answer some questions when I can think in a straight line
  19. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    I think you and I are kind of on the same track as far as what we want to do. Theres been a load of great advice and things to think about so far here. You will find that some people here are ballin big, and $100k is nothing. I however, cant do it like that. And having a rig for monitors is just out of the question...financially, and not to mention its not needed atleast for what I'm doing.

    I run sound for bands and events about twice a week. I started piecing together my setup almost one year ago, and have built it up to where it is today as I get money. I do everything I can to get the best deal on whatever item I'm looking to get. I have a list of everything I want (of course, from time to time it changes and/or expands). As of right now, I'm sitting between $7-8k, and around here atleast, it is one of the nicer setups owned personally. Soon, I would like to legitimize my "business", and expand with a partner for lights, as well as a much needed upgrade in the transportation side of things (enlcosed trailer). Dont forget the very surprising costs that add up when you go to get all of your cables (and extras!), good rack cases, stands and other small misc. things you dont tend to take into account.

    To give you an idea of my gear (basics) I'm running a 16ch (soon to upgrade to a 20ch Yamaha board, Crown XLS Power Amps (two 802's, 202, and soon 402), 2 Yamaha 15" Mains, 2 Yamaha 15" monitors, 2 Yamaha 12" monitors, 18" Yamaha subwoofer (second coming soon) and of course some effects, processing, mics, etc. This is considered tiny to most on here, but it gets my jobs done and makes everyone happy I've ever worked with.

    Always have more power than you need, and run 4-8ohm always. Two single 15" FOH speakers should be fine, but doubling that may be better if you are working outside. Learn how everything works, so when it no longer works, you can fix it. Know what you are getting yourself into, and have a backup plan or else you will waste alot of money. Research research research. Hopefully my amateur attempt at a reply is helpful to you, as I normally only read and post questions!
  20. RyanG

    RyanG Guest

    Stealthy I was actually just reading your thread earlier.

    We plan on doing mainly bars, they dont have the high ceilings though, most are 8-10ft with a few having 12-14'

    The two(at least) bands that Ill for sure be able to work with, would need to have the entire band miced. They still would be using their heads and cabinets too if that makes sense? Plus I would need at least four vocal mics. Both bands(and most in my area) are four piece. Vocals, guitar, bass, and drums. Sometimes in the main band, Applejack, the singer might play a couple songs on the guitar as well.

    Im planning on supplementing live gigs with DJing, karaoke, PA needs, anything that needs a mic and a speaker basically. There really is only one guy down here that works all these shows. He gets 125 a night for the normal 4 hour+/- gig and it goes up from there. He has two light stands with four cans each and basically they flash from one color to the next with no thought or rythym. Rick and I would like to change the thinking down here instead of going to see a band play we want people to go see "the show" that could be put on, small venue or not! Most of the music that Ill be doing is pretty hard rock, metalish.

    I also want to be able to do smallish outside venues for some of the local events down here. Annual biker parties, some cars shows, a couple battle of the bands etc. With the level of competition being small and of pretty piss poor quality we should be able to make this work and work well, at least we think so. Ill be doing it as a professional hobby I guess.

    I have an OK knowlegde of electricity, Ive been doing installs with my father(Master Electrician, Millwright) since I was 12, I know my way around a panel I guess is what Im saying, but I spent a whole lot more time pulling cable and wiring outlets.

    A buddy of mine has a degree and experience doing serious Pro work, he toured with POD and Godsmack a few years ago, doing sound work for them. He said he would help to show me the ropes a little.

    Hope that helps with some of the questions. Now Ive gotta work on my homework assignment. But tomorrow Im going to see Black Label Society, Static X, Mudvayne and Dope in Elmira, NY!

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