New Sound System for Community Theatre

Roma V

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Aug 16, 2016
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Washington, DC
Hi! I'm brand new to ControlBooth and looking for advice on what to buy for the youth community theatre that I work with.

We're looking to get a complete sound system that does not have to rely on a venue's house system, because we generally change venues every summer and are never really sure where we will be or the quality of the venue's system. We also are not sure of venue size, as sometimes we are in 99 seat theaters that barely need reinforcement, and other times we are in 1200 seat auditoriums. We are looking to be able to mix at least 10 body microphones and possibly pit inputs as well, and send to 2-3 main speakers and at least one monitor for the pit but hopefully more monitors.

As a newcomer to the world of sound, I am in favor of getting a digital board, because it is what I am most familiar with. The only configuration I know of right now is what we use at my high school, but it may be too expensive for my community theatre, so I was wondering if anyone had any other recommendations. Currently, my high school uses a Behringer X32 mixer FOH, which connects via ethernet to Behringer S16 digital snakes in a rack sidestage. All of our microhphone receivers and speakers are then cabled into those snakes.

Based on that, I think I would be looking for a mixer, rack power, digital snakes, and speakers. Is that correct? Are there better ways to set up a sound system that doesn't need anything from the venue? Do you have equipment recommendations? We are on a budget, I think our treasurer is hoping that the whole thing comes in under $5,000, but I am shooting for everything minus the board comes in under $5,000. Thank you so much for your help!
 

BillESC

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Welcome,

You should take a look at the X18 or XR18 from Behringer, both will meet your expected needs. Team it up with some of EV's active speaker offerings and you'll have the flexibility asked for.

This won't break the bank.
 

chausman

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Welcome,

You should take a look at the X18 or XR18 from Behringer, both will meet your expected needs. Team it up with some of EV's active speaker offerings and you'll have the flexibility asked for.

This won't break the bank.
Depending on the users, the X32 Compact or one of the other smaller boards may be more appropriate. Especially if used with the S(D)16.


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AudJ

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I assume you desire scene memory, given your use. I would read up on specs, as I'm not sure the x18 and lower enable that feature, although it would be a good setup otherwise. Physical faders are always helpful too.

As a cost saver, if you use powered speakers and mostly wireless, you might forego the digital snake, and just run cables or cable snake for the mains, monitor, and pit. Either way, you purchase cables to get to the snake, and adding length to these cables is likely cheaper than purchasing the snake system, since you can keep your wireless rack at the board, and might not need many of the snake features. You can always add one later as funds develop.
 

JohnD

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I wonder about 10 channels of wireless for that budget? The low budget bodypacks and receivers sometimes use the 2.4Ghz range which can cause issues.
 

Roma V

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Location
Washington, DC
Welcome,

You should take a look at the X18 or XR18 from Behringer, both will meet your expected needs. Team it up with some of EV's active speaker offerings and you'll have the flexibility asked for.

This won't break the bank.
I think I'm looking for something with physical faders that might look more like something one might see in the professional world. Because we pride ourselves on being a "learning theatre," I worry that training someone brand new to the theatre world on an X18 might not provide skills that are easily transferable to other settings. But thanks for the speaker recommendations, I'll check those out!
 

Roma V

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I assume you desire scene memory, given your use. I would read up on specs, as I'm not sure the x18 and lower enable that feature, although it would be a good setup otherwise. Physical faders are always helpful too.

As a cost saver, if you use powered speakers and mostly wireless, you might forego the digital snake, and just run cables or cable snake for the mains, monitor, and pit. Either way, you purchase cables to get to the snake, and adding length to these cables is likely cheaper than purchasing the snake system, since you can keep your wireless rack at the board, and might not need many of the snake features. You can always add one later as funds develop.
That sounds super doable, I think I was looking to get powered speakers anyways and just didn't know that was what I wanted. Thank you!
 

Thetechmanmac

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Northeastern NC
For a console, you would want something with physical faders (X32 compact). Mixing theatre on just a tablet or iPad is tough. Also keep in mind the X32 producer does not have scribble strips (little LCD screens that display channel info) which I think is a deal breaker.

For speakers, I don't have very much experience with powered speakers other QSC gear- Its very good quality gear, just pricey. Their K10s (or even K8s) may work well for monitors for you. The K10s and K8s have a lot of power in a small footprint. I agree with @BillESC that EV speakers would be a good choice for you.

Another thing to consider- you said you sometimes use 1200 cap venues. Most of these venues are probably going to have their own installed PA that is specifically tailored to that particular room that you could just patch your console outputs into. Having your own PA for the smaller venues is definitely a good idea though.

One more thing to add- You mentioned that you move around spaces a lot. It might not hurt to also pick up some good road cases for gear (at least for the console). EWI Makes quality cases and has pretty good price points.

Glad you found CB and keep us posted!
 
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JohnD

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venuetech

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they often have a "tour package" for the x32 that would include a case.
 

gafftaper

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Big thumbs up for the EV ZX-A1 powered speakers. The ZXA1's are less than 20 lbs. VERY Loud. VERY clean. About 5 years ago I put together a great little sound system for my kids' school (worked with @BillESC on it... if you need a dealer call him he knows how to put together a good package at a reasonable price). The ZXA1's are fantastic. They fill a school gym nicely. We put an analog Yamaha mixer in this system but these days for the price you get SO much more with the X32 Tour Package than we got. We put our system in one of these Gator rolling racks. I don't think the X32 would mount in the rack. But you could purchase one of the other variations with a hard top rack and set the X32 tour case on top of it. Install all the mics inside the rack put some drawers in for cable (Don't go cheap with the plastic drawers, they are a pain in the rear. Spend the extra bucks for metal drawers). You could potentially even have room to store your zxA1's in the bottom of the rack.

The wireless mics are going to be the real killer to your budget. I just spent about $7,000 adding 8 wireless mics to my system.
 
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BillESC

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Thanks Gaff.

Yes the ZXA-1's will fit in the bottom of a rack case. I built this rack for our local Boys & Girls Club.

Mixer, wireless receiver and rack drawer with a pair of speakers in the bottom space.

 

GreyWyvern

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I like contained setups like that. One I used for a while didn't have quite enough space in the rack for the speakers, so they got laid on top and strapped to the case. We even went as far as to strap the stands to the back of the case, which also helped to discourage the stands from walking away.
 

AudJ

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If this rack is moving between locations regularly, it might be helpful to have some division or padding at the very least for the speakers if stowed below.
 

gafftaper

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@BillESC

Do you know if an X32 compact will fit in the top of one of those racks like that? That would be a sweet portable kit. And @AudJ 's idea of padding. Once you get the rack go to a local craft store and glue some foam padding inside of the rack to protect the speakers.

 

JohnD

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I don't believe the X32 compact will work but the X32 Producer will.
When considering racks be sure to take a look at the slant top racks from Audiopile.net.
http://www.audiopile.net/CUDJ-P-22
I linked for the extra deep version with the 12 space top rails, the Producer MIGHT also work in the standard 10 space top rails. I also linked to the table version, it's something that might be very useful at times, and you don't have to use the tables.
As far as speaker protection consider the speaker covers that are available.
 

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