Welcome to the Existing Systems page of the Essential Audio Reference!

Below are some pictures of impressive existing systems and bands or acts that have used them. Remember, to get a more enlightening idea of what is going on in these systems, visit the “Individual Parts” link in the “Live Audio” section of this webpage.

Systems of this magnitude are flown and assembled by quite a team. If there is an act (like Dave Matthews Band) that comes into town they are met by the crew assembled by the venue. This crew of people is led by heads of departments within the travelling show. The Systems Engineer is in charge of a crew who builds the sound system at his instruction. They arrange the amplifiers and follow instruction on the connection and communication between the amplifiers and the speak arrays or monitor mixes.

Many times shows like this employ a monitor sound technician, or an audio tech independent of the Front-of-House (FOH) engineer, who maintains the stage sound. The monitors (if not IEM’s) are assembled and connected in “band-land” and the speaker arrays are properly connected to a series of amplifier racks which drive the house sound. These amplifiers are sometimes controlled remotely from FOH in order to customize the sound-needs in any particular venue.

These systems are often not owned but rented for tours by large acts or supported by well-to-do promotional or record companies/labels. They are transported by a separate team within the show. Producing a show whose sound requirements are so vast requires quite a lot of coordination, planning, and leg-work.

basic

Basic Setup: Main speaks atop subs with some monitors

lessbasic

A little less basic: Mains and subs separated, independent monitor system on a split, lighting

darwen

Movin' toward Sheds: Erected and covered stage, mains, subs, independent monitors, independent lights (synced, programmed or operated by technician)

gaston1

These two are shots from FOH and from stage at Glastonbury 2002. Much work is put into both facets. You can see from the stage shot that the subs are lining the front of the stage.

glaston2

dmb1

Dave Matthews Band: Here we see a series of flown and stacked speakers and subs. Depending on the fields or sizes of the indoor venues, delay towers may be used with a system this size. During the Dave Matthews Band set, all but Tim Reynolds (electric guitar) favor IEMs (In Ear Monitors) over stage monitor wedges. This whole system is wireless and leaves the stage uncluttered. Boxes on-stage above are front-fill speakers and on-stage below is the open-act's setup.

dmb2

4Darray

This is an example of a 4-direction array system in an indoor arena. Many indoor shows are run with the stage at one end of the court/ice/arena. Some are rigged from the center to provide for the whole house.

As you can see, systems can vary in size, complexity, and capability. A number of devices and hardware are used within the signal flow to affect the signal and its qualities before it reaches the amplifiers and in turn the main speakers/subs and house (audience). To get a very basic understanding of this signal flow and at which points throughout it can be affected, check out the "Individual Parts" page in "Live Audio."

© Michael Fish (Contact)
Western Michigan University
1903 West Michigan Ave Kalamazoo, MI 49008.
Last updated:  4/23/13 13:47