Getting the sound right can make or break an event. The size of the room, type of event you’re holding and the type of sound you’re amplifying all affect the equipment you need; that’s before you even take into account matching amplifiers and mixing decks to be able to successfully drive them.
Different speakers handle different sound ranges, and in order to accurately reproduce sound across the whole human hearing range, you would usually have a selection of different types. We’ve all experienced poor quality, tinny, sound from general purpose home audio systems.
- Full-range speakers are specifically designed to cope with everything
- Woofers and subwoofers deal with the lowest sounds
- Tweeters deal with high pitched sounds
- Mid-range speakers deal with everything in between
A car is a metal box with four wheels and an engine right? So, what makes the difference between a Ford and a Ferrari? The same logic can be applied to speakers. Some brands “will do” and may be fine for speeches or cheap PA, while other brands will offer excellent reproduction, even in less than acoustically ideal spaces.
Renting speakers will typically allow you access to higher quality equipment than you would want to buy yourself. Some decent brands to look out for are:
Get the professionals in
Setting up audio equipment is a delicate job. Turning equipment on in the wrong order could not only lead to some serious feedback but could also permanently damage the equipment. Speakers need to be matched to the equipment driving them, the type of event you are holding and where you are holding it. There may also be considerations such as directing noise away from the neighbours or ensuring that a speech can be heard at the back of a hall without deafening those at the front.
A professional rental company will perform a site visit and survey the area the sound system is to be used in. They will suggest a setup and will provide you with schematics showing where each speaker will be mounted. You will usually be able to get the necessary risk assessments and, if they rig the equipment for you, then you will be covered by their liability insurance for speaker related incidents.
Things to watch out for
Many people renting speakers are not specialists. Which means that there are unscrupulous companies out there who will undercut the true professionals. While you may be lucky and just get away with poor sound quality if you’re unlucky you could get into serious hot water.
A reputable company will be happy to show you their insurance details and will have public liability insurance. Their paperwork will be in order and they will be more than happy to provide you with risk assessments, method statements and PAT certificates to ensure that your risk assessments and health and safety requirements are met.
Watch out for companies that cut corners when rigging. Strong staging systems take time to erect properly. If they say they can do the job quickly can you be sure they’re doing the job well? Many speakers are surprisingly heavy and need to be firmly held in place. Equipment that doesn’t look brand new is fine as long as it’s not so worn it’s unsafe.
Also, watch out for companies that can’t provide references. Obviously, not all companies can supply equipment for big events like Glastonbury, but they should be able to find at least one or two customers that are happy with the service. Many professional companies install permanent systems so you may be able to visit their work and they should be happy for you to do so.