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Let's Talk About Sound!

This month I want to talk to you about SPEAKERS. No matter how large or small your performance may be, if an audience can’t hear you, they can’t appreciate you. When choosing your speakers, there are Four things you should look for.

1. First of all and most importantly is sound quality. You want to have sound that is full and mixed well vocally and instrumentally. Make sure you can hit low notes without rattling the horn, 80% of your vocals come from the horn so make sure the speakers are equipped with a large enough and powerful enough horn to suffice the amount of vocals coming through them. Never test a speaker with a recorded vocal track, get on a microphone and test the sensitivity and clarity of the horn. As for the woofer, this is where 70% of your total sound will emit from. My recommendation is a 15" woofer or larger if using a single woofer and nothing smaller than 12" if using two or more, this size will give you the amount of bass you need without straining the speaker. Just remember, if you want JD Sumner to sound right, you have to accommodate for his bass.

2. The next thing you want to look for is power, if you are using speakers that require an external amp, make sure your amp has more than enough power for the speakers, most people don't know this but too little power can blow a speaker faster than too much power. So, if you have two 300 watt speakers, you have a total of 600 watts of sound therefore I would recommend getting at least a 900 watt amp or larger. I have used three different types of externally powered speakers in the past, MTX, Peavey and Pioneer, the Peaveys were by far the best ones I have used for performances. If you are using self powered speakers such as JBL, Mackie or BehRinger, make sure that they are capable of adding on other speakers and are at least 12" or larger, my personal favorite are the Mackie, I have yet to hear a fuller and crisper sound from any other brand so far. Now if you are playing a large hall or large outdoor event, hiring a professional sound company is the best way to go, they can work alongside your own personal sound person and control the larger speakers as well as adjusting onstage monitor speakers.

3. Thirdly, look at your speakers construction, is it solid, is it wood or plastic and do you have protective grills on the woofer. Make sure you can place them on stands if you need to or that they have solid rubber feet if they need to be on the ground, on a personal recommendation, if you must put your speakers on the stage with you, get an insulation pad to put under each, otherwise if the stage is hollow, the base could run right up the mic stand and cause feedback. Wooden speakers are of course the best constructed but the plastic shelled speakers have come a long way too, use your best judgement.

4. The final thing you want to look at is your warranty, don’t pick up some second hand speaker if you can help it, if you must, take it to a professional speaker center to have it frequency tested, some speakers don’t show any problem until you really crank them up and sing through them, a frequency test is about 98% effective in finding speaker problems and defects. When purchasing new speakers, try to get them from a company that has a loaner policy, that way if you must put a speaker in for repair, the show can go on until it is fixed. Extended warranties are a great idea when purchasing new speakers as well. Once your warranty expires, find a creditable repair shop that warranties their work and also has a loaner policy as well.

Well E fans, that’s about all I have to say this time, if you have a brand of speaker you prefer over the ones I have mentioned, let me know about them please, I am always looking for new ideas in sound.

Until next time E fans, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building!".

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