Sound Equipment forms a part of virtually every aspect of our life. Hardly a day goes by when we are not greeted by music in some capacity, whether consciously or sub consciously. What do we mean by that? If you go out to a bar or a restaurant, imagine how it would feel if there was NO MUSIC! When you go to the leisure centre or your church, there is every chance that music will be played. So, consciously, at the music venue of course. Sub consciously, how about at the supermarket, or the doctor’s surgery? These places have created a positive ambience for your sub conscience. All of these places have one thing in common. SOUND EQUIPMENT!
What is Sound Equipment?
Sound equipment is a series of components that make up the audio system within a venue, whether that is the local bar or restaurant, the theatre, the school play, the church or the gym. Usually the sound equipment that has been installed consists of 3 different elements, the speakers (Loudspeakers), the line mixer (Mixing Desks) and the amplifier. These can be a whole variety of sizes, quantities and features, depending on the specific application.
Is Sound Equipment and PA Systems the Same Thing?
Essentially yes they are the same thing. PA stands for public address and is the common term used to describe everything that amplifies the sound, whether that is from voice or music.
How Many Parts make up a Sound System?
Apart from the speakers and amplifier which are always the common elements of a system, there could be several more additions that make up the complete system. The main one is the mixer. This is an item that goes at the start of the chain. All items that you want to use will plug in to the mixer. Most likely these will be;
- Microphone wired or wireless
- Music from tablet or phone
- CD or media Player
- The sound from the projector or TV’s
- Paging and warning components.
Other items will be cabling, connectors, brackets for speakers, Rack cases for storing the mixer, etc. These are all items that come under the category of sound equipment accessories.
Can Sound Systems be Installed Outdoors?
Yes they can. Speakers that are installed outside require what is called an IP (Ingress protection) rating. This means that they have been especially sealed or the components have been coated enabling them to withstand being subject to all kinds of weather and dust particle ingress. The IP rating is always made up of 2 digits, the 1st being solid protection and the 2nd being liquid protection. There are numerous IP ratings and the higher the number, the higher the protection. To generalise, An IP rating commonly referred to as IP54 is usually weatherproof as it is protected against splashes of water from any angle, rain showers, etc. An IP rating of 65 will be fully dust tight and protected from jets of water at a swimming pool for Aqua Aerobics for example. There is now also X followed by a number rating, up to 9. 7 and 8 are to identify a product that can be immersed in water for a length of time.
Can my Sound Equipment be Upgraded?
When we arrange a site visit, we will first check your existing components to see if we can utilise anything that you currently have installed. You may have called us out initially because you have noticed a deterioration of sound, whether that is speakers not working or a crackling or distorting sound from the system. We offer a service, either in part or complete. Here is a link that gives you more detail about this service;
All stock comes with full manufacturer warranty for that extra peace of mind. We are approved UK stockists for all the leading brands we supply.
How much Sound Equipment is Required for an Installation?
This depends on the application of course. If it’s a corner shop that just wants to create a nice shopping experience playing ‘supermarket music ‘in the background, it may just require 2 speakers neatly and unobtrusively installed in the ceiling and a small line mixer / amplifier that can supply the music. A very similar line mixer / amplifier could also fill a shopping centre; it would just require more speakers to accommodate the amount of stores or walkways between the shops.
Is Sound Equipment Expensive?
The example above refers to a small shop, so no, this can be done very cost effectively. Of course it is possible for only 2 speakers and a mixer to be quite expensive, depending on the brand of course. One of the market leaders (and most expensive) is Bose, but is it needed within the venue that is predominantly supplying background music to aid your shopping or eating experience? There are many options that will sound great and give you a good, reliable result without costing a fortune.
Do the Speakers Need Plugging in to the Mains Power?
Speaker that require plugging in to the mains are referred to as Powered speakers and are not generally used for Installation. This means that the power amplifier is built in to the speaker enclosure. If these were used in an installation each one would require plugging in to a plug socket close by, usually fairly high up a wall, and remembered to be powered down each time after use. For installations we would always recommend that non powered speakers are used. These will take their power from a separate power amplifier which will usually be installed in an office, etc. The only cable that requires connection to the speaker is the signal cable.
What if I buy Cheap Sound Equipment for my Venue?
Like anything in life, there is a fine balance between buying cheap and investing in value for money. Sound equipment can be even more complicated as very often the specification follows no pattern. Some speakers are labelled 1000 watts so you would think it is very loud. This is not always the case. Often it is a way of rating an amplifier within the speaker and what it is capable of delivering in a very specific circumstance. Particularly with a sound equipment installation the equipment needs to last and be reliable. It is going to be installed for many years and have many hours of use. Cheap speakers or under powered amplifiers will distort and can cause other problem with other equipment within the signal chain. 80% of our installation work is within the mid price band. Even our lower price band equipment has been carefully selected and we will advise and quote more cost effective equipment where we feel it will do the job.
How much Sound Equipment will I need in my Venue?
When we are installing in any venue we always visit to get a feel for the installation and establish what type of sound equipment installation will be required. If it is quite a large space across several rooms but predominantly background music all sharing the same sound source, a quantity of speakers can easily be installed effectively in a long chain of speakers, connecting one to the other. These speakers are generally wired using what is called 100 volt line. This is where each speaker has its own stepping or tapping transformer and has a variable output facility to be able to adjust the power output and volume of each speaker. These are then simply calculated to see what power output mixer amplifier is required. For example if we are installing 16 speakers and there are a number of quiet areas near a bar for example, plus a series of speakers that require more volume, we could tap 8 speakers at 10 watts (80 watts) and 8 speakers at 20 watts (160 watts). Total wattage is 240 watts. This would then be the minimum size of the amplifier required. 100 volt line is generally more suited to background or quieter applications.
This example above is for a relatively simple install application. If there is part of a venue that requires much louder sound levels, such as a DJ or live music then bigger speakers that are more powerful may be required, possibly including sub bass also. Bigger, more powerful speakers are generally installed using Low Impedance, or directly coupled. Low impedance speakers can handle much more power and frequency band width (nice crisp trebles and warm clear bass) than 100 volt line. The venue may also require different Zones. This is where different music or maybe a TV is required in another room. This application requires a Zoning mixer and the amplifiers capable of delivering sound to several Zones. Venues that require zoning facilities would generally have up to say 4 zones. Beyond this, zoning is often done using digital matrix, controllable via apps and software.
What are the Best Sound Equipment Brands?
We tend to recommend a select amount of products that we know from many years of installing, will be reliable and be the right product for the job. We are product partners and UK stockist of many of the world’s leading audio brands. A selection of leading brands that we use for installation, although not concise is; Speakers from Apart Audio, RCF, Electrovoice, LD Systems, Wharfedale, Inspired Audio, Logic System, JBL, Clever Acoustics, Adastra.
Amplifiers, Mixing Desks and Line Mixers from Yamaha,Crown, Electrovoice, Adastra, Clever Acoustics, Cloud Electronics, Allen & Heath, Inspired Audio.
Microphones from Shure, Sennhesier, Audio Technica, W Audio.