Rigging speakers overhead

Doug Lowthian

Active Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2015
Location
International Falls, MN
NOT asking how to rig speakers overhead. Looking for the industry standards so as to familiarize myself with them.
(NOT using them as a manual for rigging either!)

Big PA speaker cabinets, overhead, in a school gym.

Is there a written standard for this?

I just want to speak the same language as the rigger pro.

Thank you in advance
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
Joined
May 28, 2009
Location
Phoenix, Az
Permanent or temporary?
 
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egilson1

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Location
Boston, MA
There will be soon. The technical standards program within ESTA is about to send out a document for its first public review related to statically suspended rigging. Once it goes out in a week or so I’ll post here.

I’ve made the assumption the speakers will not travel up and down. If they do I can post some other standards to assist.

Ethan
 

MNicolai

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Fight Leukemia
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Mar 30, 2008
Location
Sarasota, FL
Pretty good guide here:


Hardware on the cabinets for attachment should only be manufacturer's approved hardware for suspension. Not handles, not eye bolts drilled into the wooden speaker cabinet. Typically the eye bolts will be forged M10's with a fully closed eye. Usually wire rope or chain up to structure. Sometimes that's open webbed beams, sometimes unistrut between 2 parallel beams/trusses. Strut is a little nicer because it allows to drop the speaker points plumb instead of doing a bridle. Bridles aren't as visually attractive if your speakers hang a good distance below the bottom plane of your ceiling trusses.

If it's a 3-point hang, I generally don't worry about a dedicated safety. If it's a 1 or 2 point hang and a moderately heavy speaker, I like to take a wire rope cable along one of the wire ropes/chains up to structure as a safety. Usually zip tied to the primary suspension cables/chains. Usually the signal cables are in basically the same bundle as the safety. Preferably the safety should terminate at a different point than the primary suspension cables. If you take the primary points from strut bridged between 2 beams, I would prefer the safety go up to one of the beams but it depends on the geometry of the hang. A wrecking ball can be more dangerous than a speaker simply falling out of the air. Obviously this is different too depending on if it's one speaker that weighs 30 lbs or if it's a subwoofer or cluster than weighs 250. Heavier loads need the safety to be kept close to taut so that if it falls it doesn't swing or shock load the cable.

Grade 30 proof coil chain is unacceptable for overhead lifting but you'll see it commonly. Remember, most PA systems in gyms are installed by electricians, not professional AV contractors. Not the level of professionalism and safety we should aspire to but you'll see it a lot in the field nonetheless and generally I wouldn't lose sleep over it unless there are other problems with the hangs. Chain should be rated for overhead lifting, commonly STAC or Grade 80 chain.

Shackles should be moused with a wire so the pin cannot vibrate loose. Especially on subs. But also in a gym speakers get whacked by flying orbs so all connections should be locked down.

No quick links. For that matter, most hardware you get at Home Depot shouldn't be used for overhead work.

There are plenty of other considerations such as safety factors of materials/terminations, and spans of strut between beams and how you load the strut safely and use appropriate hardware and installation practices.

Always remember the 3 most important rules of rigging:
1) Don't drop nuthin'.
2) Don't kill or maim anyone.
3) Don't get featured on the AV Install Nightmares or AV Rigging Disasters Facebook groups like these poor schmucks:

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1579748343767.png
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Pretty good guide here:


Hardware on the cabinets for attachment should only be manufacturer's approved hardware for suspension. Not handles, not eye bolts drilled into the wooden speaker cabinet. Typically the eye bolts will be forged M10's with a fully closed eye. Usually wire rope or chain up to structure. Sometimes that's open webbed beams, sometimes unistrut between 2 parallel beams/trusses. Strut is a little nicer because it allows to drop the speaker points plumb instead of doing a bridle. Bridles aren't as visually attractive if your speakers hang a good distance below the bottom plane of your ceiling trusses.

If it's a 3-point hang, I generally don't worry about a dedicated safety. If it's a 1 or 2 point hang and a moderately heavy speaker, I like to take a wire rope cable along one of the wire ropes/chains up to structure as a safety. Usually zip tied to the primary suspension cables/chains. Usually the signal cables are in basically the same bundle as the safety. Preferably the safety should terminate at a different point than the primary suspension cables. If you take the primary points from strut bridged between 2 beams, I would prefer the safety go up to one of the beams but it depends on the geometry of the hang. A wrecking ball can be more dangerous than a speaker simply falling out of the air. Obviously this is different too depending on if it's one speaker that weighs 30 lbs or if it's a subwoofer or cluster than weighs 250. Heavier loads need the safety to be kept close to taut so that if it falls it doesn't swing or shock load the cable.

Grade 30 proof coil chain is unacceptable for overhead lifting but you'll see it commonly. Remember, most PA systems in gyms are installed by electricians, not professional AV contractors. Not the level of professionalism and safety we should aspire to but you'll see it a lot in the field nonetheless and generally I wouldn't lose sleep over it unless there are other problems with the hangs. Chain should be rated for overhead lifting, commonly STAC or Grade 80 chain.

Shackles should be moused with a wire so the pin cannot vibrate loose. Especially on subs. But also in a gym speakers get whacked by flying orbs so all connections should be locked down.

No quick links. For that matter, most hardware you get at Home Depot shouldn't be used for overhead work.

There are plenty of other considerations such as safety factors of materials/terminations, and spans of strut between beams and how you load the strut safely and use appropriate hardware and installation practices.

Always remember the 3 most important rules of rigging:
1) Don't drop nuthin'.
2) Don't kill or maim anyone.
3) Don't get featured on the AV Install Nightmares or AV Rigging Disasters Facebook groups like these poor schmucks:

View attachment 19208

View attachment 19209

View attachment 19210

View attachment 19211


View attachment 19212

View attachment 19213
I guess Yellow Poly knotted with masking tape mousing's inappropriate and frowned upon as well, huh??

I actually discovered this "Yellow Poly and masking tape" technique within the lay-in tile ceiling of a local community college's cafeteria, it was part of a "professional" installation by a music store who'd sold and installed their background / dance party music system.
The Yellow poly was supporting a pair of JBL twin 15" front loaded LF horns. It was a little "shocking" to find up within their ceiling. Glad my name wasn't on the "professional" installation; I thought the bead of 'hot glue" ran full width across the brand new Mackie console to limit fader travel was a 'high point' 'til I noticed the "Professionally installed" Yellow Poly.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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BillConnerFASTC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
Hire reputable stage riggers to hang it instead of the AV contractor and you'll probably be fine. Much AV contractor rigging work is just plain bad in my experience.

I take one exception to MNicolai perhsps. If this is vertically static, I'd say grade 30 is fine. The OSHA and ASTM standard prohibits it's use in overhead lifting, and static is not lifting and associated impact loads. I'll be interested if the new standard Ethan mentions allows grade 30.
 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Mar 30, 2008
Location
Sarasota, FL
Chain grades for hanging screens/displays/speakers/etc are certainly an area for debate. There's some dissonance in the community about it depending on who you ask. To my knowledge, AVIXA hasn't addressed this as a standard which is a shame because most AV and structured cabling contractors have no awareness of ESTA's TSP standards.
 
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rwhealey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2008
Location
Denver
Adaptive (formerly ATM) makes very nice and IMO reasonably priced loudspeaker rigging kits. They are engineered and have a WLL. They are more expensive than standard theatrical rigging hardware but like Bill I have had a lot of difficulty with AV contractor rigging.

If you need a complex cluster, Polar Focus rigging will provide a PE-stamped drawing for their custom manufactured rigging products.