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First time running sound for a wedding? Analog Processors (HW)
Old 6th August 2008
  #1
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BrandRecordingCo's Avatar
 

Question First time running sound for a wedding?

Hey guys,

I have been asked to run sound/DJ a wedding in September. This is my first time doing something like this, and I'm looking for suggestions. The groom rented a PA system for me to run, and this is all I know about it:

Four Speaker PA with Microphone
For groups up to 300 guests
  • 4 – 12" 2-way Professional Speakers on Tripod Stands
  • 8 Channel, 200 watt Audio Mixer / Amplifier
  • Professional Microphone with Stand and Cable
  • Speaker & Power Cables
Who knows what kind of speakers/mics/cables/etc. it contains. I am looking for some info:

-tips on where/how to set up the 4 speakers
-how much should a first timer charge for something like this?

I will obviously like to check it out a day or two ahead of time to work out kinks...but anything you guys got would be helpful.
Old 6th August 2008
  #2
"yeah, we're gonna ask you to turn it down about 4 notches. My grandmother can't hear herself talking"
Old 6th August 2008
  #3
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nukmusic's Avatar
 

most likely you're talking about the wedding reception. main problem I see is folks set up the speakers incorrectly and encounter feedback if using a mic. Use a cordless mic with extra batteries. Everyone will want to send out love to the newly weds.

But sure to setup in a spot away from consistent traffic. Drunk people always run into Sheeeeeet. did you say "speakers on tripods".

Music doesn't need to be overly loud(unless asked for).
song list. bring everything u can. Don't think "oh, no one will ask for this". You will get everyone asking for different stuff. lots of party/dancing tunes.

bring a pen and paper to take phone numbers. women love the DJ(most of the time). even the big girls...LOLheh
Old 7th August 2008
  #4
Gear Addict
 
Thebassist's Avatar
 

Nobody ever answers OP anymore.

Standard wedding rates essentially double. FI, I make 100- 200 bucks for playing a three hour club date. 100 if there is free booze. For weddings it's more like 4-600, more if I book it.

DJ's here in Chicago charge about a grand with PA cartage. YMMV.

If you haven't run this sort of sound before, just book it and subcontract a good sound man. A very easy way to make beer money for the month.
J
Old 7th August 2008
  #5
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strewnshank's Avatar
 

+1 on the subcontractor. That can save you a huge amount of stress.

Since you ain't providing the PA, maybe 200 bucks. I don't know where you are, but if you had the gear, 700-1k sounds decent if you have music, 300-500 if you are just brining the sound.


If you mess up, they won't pay at all.


Short Wedding AV Story:
I was just new to an AV company, and they sent me to do a wedding on my own. I knew what was going on, but I wasn't all too experienced doing everything by myself. So I set up a small PA for the ceremony, a larger PA for the DJ, and two 5K projectors to run some wedding slides on. The bride was to bring her laptop and I'd hook it all up. The wedding went fine, and all was well with the rest of the gear. Well, the Bride had a mac laptop and didn't have the Mac VGA dongle. AV guys know that macs don't spit out anything useful unless you have the proprietary adapter. I even had a mac adapter in my car, but it was the wrong type.

Anyways, we couldn't get one in time, I couldn't find another way to play the slides, and the wedding planner refused to pay, all because of something that was arguably not our fault.
Old 7th August 2008
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

When setting up id be looking at speaker coverage more than anything else. Its hard to say the best way to set them up without seeing the room, but just make sure everyone in the room can hear the annouce mic, thats the main thing.

Its a corperate gig, so make sure all your cable runs are nice and neat and not in the way, run them along the wall and if possible gaff them if they cross any doorways.

Most importantly, its not a rock'n'roll gig. It really doesnt need to be loud. I also try and keep in good contact with the organiser of the event and make sure that they are happy with the volume, just to be on the safeside. And also by doing that, if people complain about the sound you can just pass the buck and blame them .

I dont usually freelance for these sort of gigs, i typically get them through the P.A companys i work for. For opperator rates, maybe $20-30 and hour? It depends how much money they have to throw around. I was paid $300 one time to walk in and play backing tracks for singer at a corperate dinner.

Really though, with the gear you have to work with, providing it all works theres not alot that can go wrong. Wedding and other corperate events are great, free meal, free drinks, once its all working just relax and have fun.
Old 7th August 2008
  #7
Here for the gear
 

She's a Mother

Be prepared, the mother of the bride will freak out on you. This is normal, just be professional (don't smile too much while she chews you out, they interpret that as either being smug or being a smart ass). Don't let on it's your first gig. Act like everything is normal, in spite of how much chaos is involved. A small system like you describe is a piece of cake to set up, operate and break down. Don't get too drunk, there will be lot's of chicks and you may end up with designated driver duties for them (for a nice tip).
Old 7th August 2008
  #8
Here for the gear
 

i used to run setup at a bunch of the hotels around here and they just put the generic pieces on the sheet, and they will use whatever they have available (ie: JBL's/mackie) whenever the reception is.

now if its a real nice resort type place, they will usually have the stuff set aside either from their A/V dept. or from local audio companies. but chances are the gear is pretty good cause they need to cater to the fatty corp's when they roll through for a company meeting
Old 7th August 2008
  #9
Gear Guru
 
AllAboutTone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by $uper$tar View Post
Hey guys,

I have been asked to run sound/DJ a wedding in September. This is my first time doing something like this, and I'm looking for suggestions. The groom rented a PA system for me to run, and this is all I know about it:

Four Speaker PA with Microphone
For groups up to 300 guests
  • 4 – 12" 2-way Professional Speakers on Tripod Stands
  • 8 Channel, 200 watt Audio Mixer / Amplifier
  • Professional Microphone with Stand and Cable
  • Speaker & Power Cables
Who knows what kind of speakers/mics/cables/etc. it contains. I am looking for some info:

-tips on where/how to set up the 4 speakers
-how much should a first timer charge for something like this?

I will obviously like to check it out a day or two ahead of time to work out kinks...but anything you guys got would be helpful.
GS is great and can be helpful, i would suggest you get someone local that knows about setting up such to make sure everything is hooked up right and running smooth, 300 guest ?, if something isn't right and goes wrong you are gonna wish you were not there, i use to do weddings , apartment parties etc and i was on the edge of my seat a lot of times, i never really had a a bad gig tho, i guess i was lucky and i always had backup tools like amps etc.
Old 7th August 2008
  #10
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Rappy's Avatar
 

Good advice all around. A couple of things not mentioned:

1) Set up the speakers so the tweeters are pointing a little above ear level of the audience. If they will be seated for the ceremony, take that into consideration. If they will be up dancing for the reception, the speakers can be a little higher up.

When you look at the room for the first time, imagine the ideal placement of the speakers so they can have the widest coverage and will capture the most audience in the sweet spot as possible. Now, take that ideal conception in your head and start compromising it based on sight lines, doorways, trip hazards, catering stations, the cake table, etc. When you have to start compromising fidelity in a gig like this, don't worry about it. Sound is just one part of the event and making it look pretty and not interfering with other people's jobs is just as important as making it sound good. That said, don't screw up. The client will not be happy. However, if the voice or music is a little muddy in a few corners of the room, no big deal. Not everyone will want to be in the sweet spot of the sound field anyway. Many would rather have the audio in the background so they can talk.

2) +1 on the suggestion to gaff tape cables when they cross the threshold of doorways. You can sometimes go over doorways (up and around the door frame) and tape to the wall if it doesn't look horrible. DONT use duct tape! It will damage the wall. Buy some gaffer's tape even if you have to order it for $20 a roll. 1 roll will last you a long time and it might even help you avoid a law suit if someone trips and hurts themselves on a messy cable run.

3) I would normally say make sure the electrical power situation is cool, but if the room is used all the time for weddings and corporate events, then I'm sure they have adequate power. You can easily run your system off of one circuit anyway. Just bring some extra extension cords (you never know how far an outlet will be from where you need it.) Also, don't plug your gear into the same circuit that is being used for lights (a couple of low wattage par cans is probably fine, though), heat lamps for catering, etc. If you leave open outlets on a power strip, don't be surprised to find the photographer plugging his flash charger into it, or a guest using it to charge their cell phone, etc. Be vigilant. You will be blamed if the sound system shuts off because someone else messed with your outlet.

4) Speeches and toasts will be the most difficult part. Many people aren't used to talking into microphones and have horrible mic technique. You will have to ride the gain or fader on the vocal channel the entire time someone is speaking. Try to ring out some feedback frequencies if you can, but you won't have much of a graphic EQ on a power mixer. Watch out for 630 Hz, 1.25 kHz, and 6.3 kHz. If there is no graphic at all, use the treble EQ on the channel strip if you have to roll off some highs to avoid feedback (but not so much that you loose intelligibility), and you are almost always better off leaving a frequency flat or cutting it, rather than boosting it. That said, any tweaking you can do to the power mixer to make a vocal sound better will be infinitely less effective than getting the person to talk loudly and directly into the mic. It is all about the source, right? Have a little talk with the people who will be speaking before hand if you get the chance, and coach them on the right way to hold and speak into the mic. Tell them to speak into it as if they are trying to reach the farthest person in the room with their voice. Most speeches will occur with the mic out in front of the speakers (the wrong placement, of course, but often unavoidable in these events) so you need to get the vocal loud without using too much gain, or it will feedback. If you are unlucky enough to get a person with a weak public speaking voice who holds the mic 2 feet from their mouth, your job will be nearly impossible. Remember the inverse square law: each time the distance is doubled from the source to the transducer, the energy is cut in half (or vice versa). Just moving the mic a few inches closer will give you more gain before feedback than anything else.

I hope this helps,

Rappy
Old 7th August 2008
  #11
Gear Nut
 

I've done a few weddings and they can really be a lot of fun (once in a while). I usually charge $500 + rentals, more if you can get it, as you will be putting music together for days ahead of time. Fortunately if you choose to do this again, you'll have a good supply of music already to pull from. If you go with 4-speakers, make sure people have an area to get away from the music, that'll depend on the venue I suppose.

Use 2- S I N G L E P L A Y CD players, and KNOW that they are in perfect working order, as there's nothing worse than CD's that skip or don't track right. And one last important thing to mention: DO NOT under any circumstances play Y.M.C.A. some thing just need to go away.

Good luck,

Russ
Nashville
"In Order To Predict The Future ... Create It"
Old 7th August 2008
  #12
Lives for gear
 

Everyone above covered a lot of stuff, but since I am a true sound w h o r e I can add a few tips.

Remember that not everyone will want to hear the p.a. LOUD.
It is OK to have it covering a dance floor area only for music/dancing.
When people speak on a mic and are addressing the room MOST of the audience will quiet down and listen.
This means that if the speakers are set up in a way that covers and favors a dance/floor (intense party zone) they'll be OK for the rest of the room.

If it is a rental system I would imagine that it will be adequate and fairly straight forward in it's set up.
It doesn't get easier than a powered mixer and four speakers.
Hotels and rental folks do like the JBL EONs, but Mackies like SRM450s are better.
The EONs are kinda' un-powered and fart out rather quick with "party" music.
I have used both for music playback and the EONs don't cut it.
You said a powered headm so maybe it'll be strong enough to rock the room.

Do remember NOT to push the system harder than it can handle.
People always try to "pump up the volume" beyond what a rig will comfortably do.

My rule of thumb is to run things maybe a bit quieter than you'd expect and HAVE THE CROWD or PEOPLE IN CHARGE ASK ME TO TURN IT UP.
You have to think ahead.
It is better to be ASKED to "turn it up" than to be asked to "turn it down!"
One way you look like you are obliging their request and the other you are an annoyance.
Just make sure that you turn it up at the request of the people in charge.
Use your head.

I know A LOT of people who start too loud with music and although they may be getting a hard-on from the majesty of the sound... they are pissing the majority of everyone else off!
I guess I could say that I see more people mess up at running sound by running things TOO LOUD than anything else.

You DEFINITELY need a wireless handheld mic with extra batteries.
They usually do eight hours, but I've seen batteries do less.

Try not to get hammered and join the revelry until the late hours.
The single women will well oiled by then anyways and since you will be a lone guy operating the MACHINE that is powering the party... you'll be a popular guy!
If you are tied down in one spot manning the piece of equipment providing the glorious sound you'll be an easy target.

PAY....
For a simple set-up WITHOUT PROVIDING GEAR.... for a wedding.... I'd ask $250.00 to $300.00
Then again, if someone asked me it'd be a special deal in most cases because it is a bit below what I do.
This would be if I was actually running the music.
I'd expect more if I provided the tunes and DJ'ed but that ain't my thing.

If I provided the equipment.... a simple rig $500.00 MINUMUM and up to $800.00 for a decent rig big enough for a band.

For friends I might loosen up a bit on pricing, but work is work.

I'd EXPECT a tip if I did a good job.
Still, people will be hammered and worn out after event, so who knows.
Try to befriend the bride's dad.
He'll most likely be opening his wallet a bit... a weird tradition.

Easy gig... easy money.

Are you single?
It'll be fun either way (don't take a girlfriend and NEVER a wife!)
Watch the age of the partying women you are tempted to "party" with.
There will be a few that are too young and frisky.
Old 7th August 2008
  #13
Lives for gear
 
BrandRecordingCo's Avatar
 

Hey guys!

Thanks for the great advice. I am thinking of charging around $150 or so, since I went to college with the guy and we hung out a few times. Does that seem fair?

Also, is it smart to run the music right from my laptop (itunes)? Or...is that a bad idea? I would have a back up there as well. What do you think?

Sorry, I am a studio guy, but want to get more into live sound as well...so this is my first step into the live sound pool...
Old 7th August 2008
  #14
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BrandRecordingCo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
Everyone above covered a lot of stuff, but since I am a true sound w h o r e I can add a few tips.

Remember that not everyone will want to hear the p.a. LOUD.
It is OK to have it covering a dance floor area only for music/dancing.
When people speak on a mic and are addressing the room MOST of the audience will quiet down and listen.
This means that if the speakers are set up in a way that covers and favors a dance/floor (intense party zone) they'll be OK for the rest of the room.

If it is a rental system I would imagine that it will be adequate and fairly straight forward in it's set up.
It doesn't get easier than a powered mixer and four speakers.
Hotels and rental folks do like the JBL EONs, but Mackies like SRM450s are better.
The EONs are kinda' un-powered and fart out rather quick with "party" music.
I have used both for music playback and the EONs don't cut it.
You said a powered headm so maybe it'll be strong enough to rock the room.

Do remember NOT to push the system harder than it can handle.
People always try to "pump up the volume" beyond what a rig will comfortably do.

My rule of thumb is to run things maybe a bit quieter than you'd expect and HAVE THE CROWD or PEOPLE IN CHARGE ASK ME TO TURN IT UP.
You have to think ahead.
It is better to be ASKED to "turn it up" than to be asked to "turn it down!"
One way you look like you are obliging their request and the other you are an annoyance.
Just make sure that you turn it up at the request of the people in charge.
Use your head.

I know A LOT of people who start too loud with music and although they may be getting a hard-on from the majesty of the sound... they are pissing the majority of everyone else off!
I guess I could say that I see more people mess up at running sound by running things TOO LOUD than anything else.

You DEFINITELY need a wireless handheld mic with extra batteries.
They usually do eight hours, but I've seen batteries do less.

Try not to get hammered and join the revelry until the late hours.
The single women will well oiled by then anyways and since you will be a lone guy operating the MACHINE that is powering the party... you'll be a popular guy!
If you are tied down in one spot manning the piece of equipment providing the glorious sound you'll be an easy target.

PAY....
For a simple set-up WITHOUT PROVIDING GEAR.... for a wedding.... I'd ask $250.00 to $300.00
Then again, if someone asked me it'd be a special deal in most cases because it is a bit below what I do.
This would be if I was actually running the music.
I'd expect more if I provided the tunes and DJ'ed but that ain't my thing.

If I provided the equipment.... a simple rig $500.00 MINUMUM and up to $800.00 for a decent rig big enough for a band.

For friends I might loosen up a bit on pricing, but work is work.

I'd EXPECT a tip if I did a good job.
Still, people will be hammered and worn out after event, so who knows.
Try to befriend the bride's dad.
He'll most likely be opening his wallet a bit... a weird tradition.

Easy gig... easy money.

Are you single?
It'll be fun either way (don't take a girlfriend and NEVER a wife!)
Watch the age of the partying women you are tempted to "party" with.
There will be a few that are too young and frisky.
Great advice! I am waiting to hear back if I will be providing the music...if so, I may charge a bit more. I could provide a P.A. most likely if I borrow from my uncle or something, and could probably make a bit more that way, but it would be more hassle b/c he lives about an hour away from the gig or so. I don't know we will see. I may offer that.

I have never DJ'ed before, obviously, and want to know if there is a huge difference between simply "running sound" and Dj'ing. Or will I be expected to do both? I imagine so. Any tips on being a great DJ would be awesome as well.

Thanks again!
Old 7th August 2008
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by $uper$tar View Post
Great advice! I am waiting to hear back if I will be providing the music...if so, I may charge a bit more. I could provide a P.A. most likely if I borrow from my uncle or something, and could probably make a bit more that way, but it would be more hassle b/c he lives about an hour away from the gig or so. I don't know we will see. I may offer that.

I have never DJ'ed before, obviously, and want to know if there is a huge difference between simply "running sound" and Dj'ing. Or will I be expected to do both? I imagine so. Any tips on being a great DJ would be awesome as well.

Thanks again!
I have a friend who is a DJ for parties and he is a total stick in the mud!
He had zero "mic personality" so that obviously doesn't matter!

Just keep the party music going NON stop until they say STOP.
You need the Chicken Dance
Old 7th August 2008
  #16
Gear Addict
 
Thebassist's Avatar
 

JFC. 150? Get outta here.

Plan on doing more than you are payed for. Much more.

How much would you expect to pay a plumber for 4-5 hours worth of work?

NEVER CHARGE LESS THAN THAT!!!!!!!!!!! For anything!!!!!!tutttutttutttutt

We are at least as important as plumbers, right?

Your friend has friends who are going to get married, besides you. He will tell them what he payed you. They could be future clients.

Your bud and his fiance are probably spending a couple grand just on flowers. Charge what you are worth. Or at least, what my plumber is worth.
Old 7th August 2008
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Daddy's got a wad

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
Everyone above covered a lot of stuff, but since I am a true sound w h o r e I can add a few tips.


I'd EXPECT a tip if I did a good job.
Still, people will be hammered and worn out after event, so who knows.
Try to befriend the bride's dad.
He'll most likely be opening his wallet a bit... a weird tradition.

Easy gig... easy money.

Are you single?
It'll be fun either way (don't take a girlfriend and NEVER a wife!)
Watch the age of the partying women you are tempted to "party" with.
There will be a few that are too young and frisky.
Good points! While the Brides Mother will be a mother if you handle her well the Brides Father will be your best friend. He has a big wad of 20's in his pocket and every time you handle a request or controversy he will be breaking it out and slipping you some grease. Your tact and diplomacy will be rewarded. Don't low ball your bid because it's your college buddy. He's not paying the tab, the brides father is so treat him like he's the boss cause he is. You laptop will work fine as long as you have the songs they want and can keep them coming seamlessly. Enjoy your debut.
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