Hiding speakers on stage

jkowtko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Location
Redwood City, CA
When fly-mounted or placed somewhere on a set, are there certain types of fabric or mesh that are commonly used to hide a speaker but let the sound through as unobstructed as possible?

And what sort of paint would you use on the mesh/fabric so as not to further obscure the sound?

Thanks. John
 

highschooltech

Active Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2006
Location
Orange, CA
Are the speakers for the audience or are they stage monitors? And what is the theme you want for the set?
 

jkowtko

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Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Location
Redwood City, CA
Primarily for audience -- either canned orchestra or FX speakers. This is for all productions going forward, so the theme and set design will change significantly from show to show ... I'm just interested to find out what materials and techniques work best so we can stock up on them in anticpation of building sets for the future shows.

My current thought is to use a muslin or gauze type fabric, but I'm concerned about painting over it and closing the pores in the fabric. So if there is a good fabric/paint choice that can be used, or a metal mesh grating that can be painted over but still let good sound through, that would be my preference.

I will also look at fly-mounting orchestra speakers in the rear of the stage, in which case I want to hide them behind an apron of fabric. What material should I use for the apron?

Thanks. John
 

highschooltech

Active Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2006
Location
Orange, CA
Depending on the set and theme it is possible to put the speakers in crates, made by the crew with an open side facing upstage, at the front of the stage. Unfortunately, i can't think of anything that would be useful to cover speakers in the set other than fabric that was already dyed a certain color.
 

Peter

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Joined
Oct 2, 2004
Location
MA, USA
Honestly.... it depends on how particular your audience is going to be and what fedelity you are looking for. I have done a decent number of events outside where it was just starting to sprinkle so we pulled 1mm trash bags over the speakers and kept going with minimal effect (except for dry speakers!). Look arround a store for a few minutes at home speakers, and every one of them has some type of cloth or plastic grille over the cones. I would simply try to work with what you have and try to keep things as thin as possible.
 

jkowtko

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Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Location
Redwood City, CA
Yes, one of my last FX speakers was behind a luan panel !! -- and it still sounded okay (but obviously I want to do better than that). So I'm not looking for audiophile quality, just some advice on which fabrics work better than others, etc.

Thanks. John
 

the_dude

Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2005
Also realize that whenever you put anything in front of a speaker besides an audience, some of the sound is going to be bounce back onto the stage and has the potential to create problems. You can control this somewhat by understanding how different materials absorb/reflect different frequencies. For instance, muslin coated in paint is going to reflect much more high end onto the stage then if you were to just use muslin.
 

gafftaper

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Jan 2, 2006
Location
Seattle, WA
My local theater supply place has scraps of scrim for a couple bucks a bag. That's perfect. Get white and dye it whatever color you want.

If you can't find scrip scraps then be a man and head to the local fabric store for a little bit of tricot or other super thin stretchy material. Again buy white and dye it. Muslin will work in a pinch but there are many thinner fabric options. Go with your costumer to the fabric store or be brave and go on your own.