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Live Sound Production: to Reinforce or Reproduce the Sound?

By July 12, 2013March 20th, 2016Audio
live sound engineeering lake tahoe

There are obviously many things to consider when doing sound production for a live event or show to consider, especially, whether to reinforce the sound or reproduce the sound. When doing live sound, the question you must address is, do I need Reinforcement or Reproduction? There is a big difference between the two. Many of people are not aware of this. Additionally, is your event or show outdoors or indoors? Again, this is a very different scenario that requires different gear and set-up and thought process to make for a successful experience by the audience.

Basically, sound reinforcement is just that, reinforcing what is already there, such as the vocals, guitars, drums, horns, etc. In conjunction with what is already coming off of the stage, either acoustically, or even with the monitors and can be heard by the audience. The sound system is there to add level and coverage to the existing sound acoustically. So mix it that way. Don’t over do it.

Sound reproduction is to re-amplify everything coming off the stage: what is coming off the stage acoustically or by the monitors.

You can see that these are almost opposites of each other. One requires more P.A. gear and the other less. In this scenario, everything gets miced and goes out of the P.A.

This can become confusing and very difficult to figure out, depending on many factors. At times I have miced everything for monitoring for the band, especially if the band is using in-ear monitors.

Here are some very important questions that must be asked and answered. Is it indoor or outdoor? Whether it is indoor or outdoor, what is the environment or room like? How many people are to be covered? Standing or seated? Is this a dance party atmosphere or is it a seated and listening type event or show? Other factors to consider: type of event or music? Speaking only? Is this a church type event? Many different things come into play when you know the answers to these questions.

These are just a few questions to ask in order for you to make of whether to reinforce the sound or reproduce the sound. This will make a big difference to a successful or unsuccessful event or show. Never forget to ask about AC power. Enough, good clean AC power is critical to your system.

Don’t underestimate what your system needs either acoustically or for AC power. And always remember with AC Power, safety first!

If you don’t know how much your system needs, come to one of our sound class’s or call us at Real Audio Workshop and we can figure it out for you.

A quick note for you, depending on size and type of event, when you go outdoors with your sound system, in most cases, you lose about 20%, to 30% of your sound system’s acoustical energy thus amplifier power output and head room. This is generally due to being in a “free air” space. There are no walls or ceilings to help reinforce the sound.

I have seen all too many times that there is not enough P.A. inplace for the outdoor or even indoor event and the sound system gets distorted, over driven or damaged. A rule of thumb is to bring more gear. Not just for more volume but “head room” on your system. Take a site survey of the event. Ask as many questions as you need from the promoters, band, coordinators, leaders, whoever else is involved to get as good an understanding as to what is going to happen or what is to be expected when the curtain goes up.

In summary, Be as prepared as possible for your event / show. Knowing whether to reinforce or reproduce the sound is very important. Remember to keep your levels under control, protect your hearing and the others in the audience yet give them as good and exciting experience as you can. It is not about volume, but energy. This is easily confused as to how to achieve this. Which can be done with the right tools and knowledge.

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