Hiding In The Shadows For A Crowd Of 2000+

November 16, 2016 by Robert Lindquist

After a full season of wedding receptions, I appreciate the winter break and the opportunity to do things other than the bridal schtick. Christmas parties and corporates gatherings are okay (not interested in high school stuff and Mitzvahs—too old), but what I really enjoy is when I get a call to do something new and different that may require a bit of problem solving.

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DJ Barb handles the mix from the super stealth DJ booth.

Recently, I was hired to set-up a system to provide sound and background music for a 4-hour tasting event. It was one of those deals where you pay at the door, get a free glass, and then wander about sampling gourmet nibbles such as soups and sliders, washed down with slurps and shots of various local wines and brews. Yum.

The location was a well-known landmark in downtown Rochester (NY). Until recently it had been home to several businesses, but is now undergoing redevelopment. The first floor of the 26 story tower was originally a concourse lined with purveyors of retail products and services. There were several common areas where the cube-farmers who worked in the building could grab a mid-day java, lunch or post work brewski.

The concourse itself, by my guess, has got to be 350 feet long and somewhere between 30 and 40 feet wide. To brighten up the potentially dark location, hundred of lights had been strung crisscrossing the ceiling and amber uplights placed at various locations to add some color. The former store fronts where dark, and curtains hid anything that had to do with the massive construction project that was under way.

At each end of the long hall, volunteers stood ready to exchange cash for a hand stamp and a glass (wine or beer). Vendor tables formed a continuous ring around the perimeter. My assignment was two-fold: First, to provide sound throughout the entire area. Second: to keep all gear and associated chords and cables as stealth as possible.

Knowing that this would be anything but a typical set-up, I arranged to do a preliminary set-up on the Thursday prior to the actual event. Glad I did.

After loading in via a dock that connected to the outside world through an underground tunnel, the head-scratching began. Job one was to find the best location to set-up the DJ booth. Having limited space to work with, I had brought an Arriba Afford-A-Stand. The Afford-A-Stand is compact, lightweight and sturdy enough to hold up to 60 pounds. It also folds up flat and fits in it’s own carrying bag. Carpeted front panels in grey, white and black are provided making it a cinch to hide gear and cables. If you don’t have one of these, you should get one—they are great for wedding ceremonies and events such as this where smaller is not only better, it’s essential.

Where’s Power?

Now to find the most convenient AC outlets and the best locations for the loudspeakers (on stands). There were plenty of outlets along the outside walls, unfortunately most were stone dead – victims of the ongoing renovation. To further complicate things, the best locations for the loudspeakers speakers were limited by the vendor tables along the wall.

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Positioning the speakers to get the best coverage took a bit of trial and error. As for power: well, long story short—hundreds of feet of extension chords later, I had power (and signal) to all six loudspeakers (four Mackie SRM 650s and two Mackie Thumps). Three of the speakers were placed along one wall, with the first about 100 feet from the entrance area which covered that area perfectly. The next two were spaced at 50’ intervals, angled slightly to the left and right. Two of the remaining three speakers were placed back to back in the center of a larger common area, and the final Mackie was positioned to cover a dead space near the DJ set-up location. In a noble effort to ward off any potential fisticuffs during vendor set-up (and score a few points with the client), I provided plenty of extra outlets on my extensions.

So far so good. Using just just an iPhone and an RCA to mini cable, I fed a little Allman Brothers (random choice) into the back of the first speaker in each chain, set some rough levels and called it a day. Assured that everything would be safe and secure until Saturday, I descended back to the loading dock, fired up the truck and drove toward the light at the end of the tunnel.

Next: Part 2: Going all digital for a crowd of over 2000.

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Robert Lindquist Robert Lindquist (23 Posts)

Robert Lindquist has been involved in the DJ profession since 1967, when he built a make-shift sound system from spare parts in order to provide music for a birthday party. From that point on, he supplemented his day-jobs in radio, TV and advertising by DJ’ing in clubs and for weddings and corporate events. In 1987, he was encouraged to share his DJ experience in writing, which led to the release of “Spinnin’” at the initial DJ Times Expo in Atlantic City.Recognizing the need for a publication dedicated to Mobile DJs, he created Mobile Beat “The DJ magazine” in 1990. In addition to still being a sound tech and DJ/MC for weddings, he is a producer of video content writes for several audio publications and blogs. He is also a partner in Las Vegas based Level 11 Media, which maintains several Web sites and digital publications for musicians and touring sound engineers and is an IMDb listed actor and voice talent.


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