So you need to achieve better audio outside? Maybe you’re setting up for an outdoor wedding or other church event and want to make sure everyone can hear what’s going on. It’s no good if the congregation is struggling to hear the sermon during your outdoor service because the sound system isn’t capable. Whatever reason, all outdoor locations have their own unique difficulties, but by the time you are done reading this, you will have a solid foundation for improving your outdoor sound.
First, system portability is essential
It’s a hassle to be lugging heavy equipment around to outdoor events. Portability is key when selecting the right sound reinforcement gear — it can be unwieldy. Gear that’s lightweight, or just easy to move around, gives you the flexibility to make small or large adjustments to the audio setup anytime without much hassle. Imagine having to move a heavy system for your youth group each week. It doesn’t sound appealing. Equipment that you can barely lift is a bad place to start. It’s best if you use equipment that’s either lightweight and portable — something like Samson’s XP108W battery powered speaker and LS40 speaker stand. Transporting this setup is a breeze, too; the XP108w weighs under 24 pounds and the LS40 is under 14 pounds, for a total system weighing less than 40 pounds.
When picking out equipment that’s portable, look for features like built-in wheels and an extending handle. Wheels will limit the distance you will need to carry your speakers, and easy-to-reach extending handles makes transporting effortless.
Don’t forget the power
Oftentimes, power sources are in short supply at outdoor events, and this can be extremely limiting. A great option is having equipment that is battery powered, so it doesn’t need an external source of power. Long-lasting batteries increase your flexibility because the event won’t be limited by battery life. What good is a sound system without power? Battery power doesn’t have to mean low power. The Samson XP108w has 200 watts of peak power, so your message can be heard even by people in the back row.
Set the right levels
Depending on the output level of the microphone you’re using, the amount of gain you need will change. A healthy input signal without feedback is key. Feedback is the annoying howling that is heard when the microphone gets too close to the speaker and the volume is high. Gain increases the sensitivity of the input and, when adjusted properly, will allow for the presenter to be heard. To get the right gain levels, turn the gain up until you hear feedback and then back it off.
To increase the volume of the signal, adjust the master volume. When doing this, keep increasing the level until you get your desired volume, just like with the input gain, and pull it back when you hear feedback.
Choose your direction
When positioning your speakers, always place them facing the audience. The sound isn’t going to be as clear if a speaker’s are positioned away from the crowd. This is also where the direction of your gear will determine the amount of gain before feedback. To decrease the risk of feedback, place the speakers at the front of the stage and keep the mics behind them.
Keep things off the ground
It may sound simple, but keeping your speakers at least ear height will make a world of difference. Additionally, the closer the speakers are to the audience’s ears, the less mass the sound will need to penetrate. And since there are fewer objects obscuring the sound, it will be able to travel further and be heard better.
The best way to get speakers off the ground is to use stands. They are the safest route to go. However, not all stands are made equal, so be careful when purchasing. Look for stands that hold at least 40 pounds — like Samson’s LS40 stands, which hold up to 44 lbs — and ones that have adjustable height and locking latches for safety.
These five tips will ensure great audio for your next outdoor event. And if you need to upgrade your portable sound equipment, Samson’s XP108W and LS40 stands are tailored for the great outdoors. Check out Samson’s website to learn more about the XP108W and LS40P, as well as other Samson products.