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Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies

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Author Topic: 5.1 PA numbers & placements  (Read 5336 times)
Meadows
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« on: June 23, 2014, 02:00:09 pm »

I've lurked for years but Its time to act on a new sound system. A little background, I would like to accommodate my audience level better that's between 10-50 people. I'm thinking about running my HT A\V receiver (speaker level out) with the DI that I keep seeing talked about here. The reason being that I have other devices and game consoles that I would like one source of switching.  I feel that I want 12" Active PAs (but not spend too much or too often). At some point I will start taking this system out for mainly small paid gigs.

My questions though are....
1) sub woofer. Thinking about placing it in the middle of the seating area to keep the volume lower and closer to the audience. Does anyone do this and are there ways to point them down instead of out?

2) center channel. Two smaller speakers (10") or one larger (15")? 
Or should I keep the L C R all exactly the same? The center with my current setup has always been an issue. Almost thinking about a center channel in the back too. Also, the center drives me crazy at times during a movie because the center gets too loud with sound effects but too low for voices. I'm always having to adjust the volume to keep from booming the center.

3) surround channels. To the sides or squared with the fronts with the seating in the center? With 2 to 5 rows of "possible" seating, the sides become a moving target as folks setup their seats.

4) wire gauge. Currently running 14g anywhere from 20' to 60'. Any issues to keep these with Active PAs, and\or should I run 12g on that longest run?

5) PA brands. Don't want to open that can of worms but would like to be PM'ed for this descusions if it helps keep the rest of this thread on track.

I really appreciate everything y'all do on this site!!
Thanks, Dave.

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Sparge
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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 05:34:11 pm »

1) sub woofer. Thinking about placing it in the middle of the seating area to keep the volume lower and closer to the audience. Does anyone do this and are there ways to point them down instead of out?

You need to move a lot of air outside.  Don't even bother with anything smaller than a 12" subwoofer.  Facing the sub toward the ground will do little outdoors.  You'll want the sub pushing the air at your audience.  Putting the sub within your audience will likely annoy those sitting next to it and do little for those sitting away from it.

2) center channel. Two smaller speakers (10") or one larger (15")? 
Or should I keep the L C R all exactly the same?

That's a great question.  Normally one wants the Center identical to the Left/Right for balanced sound.  However, using two speakers affords a wider coverage area for the all-important Center channel that carries 95% of the movie dialogue.  I'm using a single 15" for my Center now but have been considering a switch to two 12".  They would both still be at the center of the screen, just each angled outward slightly to widen the coverage area.

3) surround channels. To the sides or squared with the fronts with the seating in the center? With 2 to 5 rows of "possible" seating, the sides become a moving target as folks setup their seats.

I've not found surrounds outdoors to be worth the trouble or expense.  Cords are an issue.

4) wire gauge. Currently running 14g anywhere from 20' to 60'. Any issues to keep these with Active PAs, and\or should I run 12g on that longest run?

Active PA speakers do not use heavy gauge speaker wire.  You will need three-conductor balanced mic/line level cords.

5) PA brands. Don't want to open that can of worms but would like to be PM'ed for this descusions if it helps keep the rest of this thread on track.

Folks seem to like JBL EONs or Mackie Thumps.  The B52 Matrix systems are a good middle ground.  Behringer active speakers are on the low end of the spectrum.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, but does cover some ground.

-Sparge-
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Lincolntech
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2014, 12:13:38 am »

I use a 12" 200 watt sub. It sits to the rear of my viewing area and fills the low end very well. Unless you happen to sit right next to it you really can't tell where the lows are coming from. As far as rear surrounds I already had 2 outdoor speakers under the eaves of my sun room so I just switch them to the surround speaker outs on my receiver with a speaker switch. Otherwise I probably wouldn't bother because of the extra wires to deal with. I just added a center speaker this year and it made a huge difference for the dialogue. The mains are 15" pa speakers and the center is just a 10" pa speaker. Not ideal but works much better than without it.
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Meadows
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2014, 10:35:29 pm »

2) center channel. Two smaller speakers (10") or one larger (15")? 
Or should I keep the L C R all exactly the same?

That's a great question.  Normally one wants the Center identical to the Left/Right for balanced sound.  However, using two speakers affords a wider coverage area for the all-important Center channel that carries 95% of the movie dialogue.  I'm using a single 15" for my Center now but have been considering a switch to two 12".  They would both still be at the center of the screen, just each angled outward slightly to widen the coverage area.

I was playing with the center channel over the weekend and have come to the conclusion that I personally like two centers.  Not a louder center, but like Sparge was saying, a field of sound that fills the area more directly ahead instead of from a point in the center. More noticeable on a larger screen than a smaller one.

Still committed to 5.1 though... after it's dialed in that is. 
Over the weekend we played Back to the Future part 1, which I wouldn't expect to be strong on surround sound like I would for say... Gravity. Throughout most of the movie the surrounds only compliment the LR, but was rewarded a few times for the extra work.  I've read others say online that it was a distraction.  That people start looking around.  That said, if I was paying attention to something in the street and a helicopter flew by behind me, I would turn and look.  Wouldn't people turning to look be mission accomplished?
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Pyronious
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2014, 03:31:24 am »

After much fiddling I ended up preferring a 3.1 configuration with dual center channel speakers (aimed slightly apart for wider dispersion).  I think the dual centers help improve dialogue intelligibility with larger audiences. My LCCR speakers are Peavey PR10's through a 120 Hz HPF. I think keeping all the front channel speakers the same model is a good idea for timbre continuity as sounds pan across the stage.

The reason I can get away with those 10" mains is because of a QSC KSub.  I usually place this at the projector position. It is surprisingly effective outdoors. I've never needed to turn its gain above 50% during channel level calibration.

This configuration can really belt out some serious decibels without distortion. The key to making everything distortion-free is the KSub + the HPF on the front channels. Make sure the LCR speaker sizes are set to 'Small' so everything under 120Hz goes to the sub. Otherwise those poor front channels just have to work too hard on the low end and distortion creeps in at higher SPLs.

Pyronious
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