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Suggestions for a music bar design

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Turbulent_methods View Drop Down
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    Posted: 21 October 2021 at 7:53pm
Hello i'm in need of some advice, a guy I know has asked me to come up with ideas for a sound system for a music bar, he doesn't know the size or shape of the bar yet and hasn't got a 100% idea about how loud he wants music to be. I did tell him I need to know the bar size, shape, if there are any neighbors nearby, I asked him how loud does he want the sound, how much is he willing to spend, what coverage of the bar does he want, full coverage or half coverage with a seating area where people can chat and socialize without the SPL hindering their ability to talk. I asked him if he wants a surround kind of sound or a more front focused sound, I mentioned all this to him and he's not sure yet. 

I have some experience as a sound engineer albeit amateur, i've set up sound systems before and used to do my own parties and am fully aware of comb filtering and what it is and reverberation from hard surfaces and the affect of there not being enough soft materials to cut down on the reverb time within rooms. I'm about 80% confident I can do this but wanted to get some advice from you far more experienced guys to see if there is anything i'm missing out with regards to information I should be asking him. Plus i've always done the sound for dance music never live music, he's wanting live music and dj music. I am a little worried about the fact live music is harder to make sound good because of the different instruments and vocalists whereas dance music is already mastered and all you do is play the vinyl or cds etc...I've found dance music easy to get sounding good. But this live music hmm I am a little worried. If he wants front facing speakers firing at the audience ok that's easier, i'd probably use 60 x 40 degree mid/high cabs or 90 x 40 degree cabs if there's enough space between the cabs so coverage overlap isn't a serious problem.

But if he wants a more surround sound then how do I go about modelling the coverage to get an idea and to show him the sound coverage within the bar? 

I know it takes more than simply connecting instruments to a mixing console, obviously any feedback from instruments and vocalists haver to be sorted out. Any advice for me guys? 


Edited by Turbulent_methods - 21 October 2021 at 7:56pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2021 at 8:58am
Start by taking the guy around to some venues. Let him write on paper what his wishes are after that. Do a rough calculation of all costs involved based on his wishes. If he doesn’t blink an eye continue otherwise: walk away fast. Besides that, out of your post i read you’re not an installer and have limited experience regarding live music. If so: walk away. Do you want to get called every two days regarding this or that? There is a reason installing is a different game than rentals. Do you go to a car dealer and say - i need a car - and thats it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Turbulent_methods Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2021 at 9:10am
The owner and the manager are both making things very hard for me because they don't know what they want yet, the clubs here are all shut down and there are no bars still open i've told the the manager and owner it's a risky thing him opening a bar knowing hardly anyone goes out partying anymore. In fact the big club that closed a few years ago had 12 people every weekend so it shut. I can work alongside a sound guy from college who IS used to dealing with live sound as he works with the bands in town. Another point I mentioned to him is, he wants this bar in a cafe he has in his department store and in the cafe is a big glass display cabinet for muffins and stuff. I told him low frequency sound vibrates glass and MAY crack or smash the glass if he wants subs in there. The guy has an idea but knows nothing about the world of music events etc...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toastyghost Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2021 at 10:28am
Originally posted by Bams Bams wrote:

Do you want to get called every two days regarding this or that? There is a reason installing is a different game than rentals.


This, a thousand times. You also need to check up on the codes/regulations where you are in regard to cable types, routing, suspension methods, electrical safety, and the like.

Drawing things out beforehand will make sure you and the client agree on the placement of stuff *before* it goes in.

Even then, installs need servicing. Not just the equipment, but the ever-changing needs of the venue. Handling potential noise issues, rerouting cables to allow for their latest layout changes or furniture, even just cleaning things.

If you’re serious about doing predictions beforehand, then you need to choose products from a company that offers GLL data for their speakers. That can be used in EASE Focus (for free) to do basic speaker aiming, but it *does not* simulate the walls, floor or ceiling. It is illustrative only, but helps sell a pitch.

When the client decides to pay, and a contract (essential!) is agreed, then you could look at contracting someone to do sims in the full version of EASE or an equivalent. If you want to address surface treatments and do pre-install alignments and tuning, this is the way forward. That’s a full 3D ray-traced room acoustics tool, with a steep learning curve and a price tag that matches a small car - before you build the beefy PC to calculate the sim in a reasonable period of time.

The level of detail and management needed is one of those things that only you can judge. Here’s where experience comes in.

The one thing I will say is that if the client is already proving difficult at the first stage, then you have your work cut out. Even more so if it’s a friend, as they won’t be happy with you charging for your time when you’re covering for them constantly changing their mind or asking for tweaks and revisions.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2021 at 2:52pm
The more i read the more i get the idea the owner is using you, and maybe others to create something for him, in my opinion quite a dirty trick. if he's succesfull he's the man, otherwise he will stick it to you..

one thing mentioning; over here in the netherlands/belgium post-covid (ahem..first two waves) average joe clubs are finished. what remains are multifuntional rooms, more like a concert hall used for concerts and raves and pubs in which music levels are quite lower as before because of people wanting to talk.. 

the function of clubs itself is more and more taken over by people combining to form a identity and then placing that identity in one of those multifunctional rooms (google Kompass Klub in ghent for instance) 
Might be a better suited idea to look if your area has such groups and then cater for them with a well lined out room, and in the process rent your gear to them ;) 


Edited by Bams - 22 October 2021 at 3:11pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Turbulent_methods Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2021 at 7:01pm
It's a department store cafe he wants to make into a music bar I already told him the power supply probably won't be adequate for a sound system other than a simple two mid and high speaker and two small subs arrangement say like RCF Art 312A and Art 705AS kind of thing. The department store has never had any upgrades to it's power supply because simply lighting the store and a very few wall outlets is all that was ever needed. He wants LED lighting and things like that too all which will need power, as far as i've seen there are only six wall sockets in the cafe and all on one circuit so i'd say he'd need a new separate circuit maybe 16A to power the sound system and lighting effects. I did tell him it's not doable on a budget and he's wanting this all done at a budget although he doesn't know how much. The store has already sacked a few staff due to not making enough money to keep them on, me personally I don't think the place can make a profit and with sound system, lighting effects, another electrical circuit powering the sound system, installing a bar for serving alcohol, staging for the band with more wall sockets put back there to give the guitars, compressors etc...a feed and converting the cafe to a bar in itself and decorating, staging, everything all together it'd probably cost tens of thousands. I told him a half decent low level sound system will cost him around £8,000 and that's without staging and everything else. But there's no way he'll wanna spend that. The guy is living in the clouds and thinks a couple of grand will do it all. I told him it won't. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote imageoven Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2021 at 9:32pm
If you have even a rough idea of the size of the venue, you could probably estimate the size of rig required,  a department store cafe sounds small to me, so 2 x bass cabs + 2 × mid tops. Look up list prices for a respected brands basic range of cabs, choose amps to suit and a Midrange DSP. Then add 1 x small cab per 5m of wall length for background sound and some low power multi channel amps to run these, plus a zone mixer and some remotes for it. Add on enough 2.5mm2 to go twice around the room , same for signal cable.

Give him this total and explain that's a rough estimate only and he'll need to install it himself. 

Then walk away. He's asking you because he wants it done cheap and he doesn't know what he wants. He'll probably end up buying something terrible and getting a handyman to throw it up.
Keep pushing on, things are gonna get better.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Earplug Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 October 2021 at 10:15am
You definitely want another ring main separate from the one supplying the fridges, etc. for the bar. Otherwise you could get all sorts of inteference & drops in voltage when pumps switch on.

And LEDs don't need much power. You could most probably do it all (sound & lighting) off a couple of normal 13A sockets, but what m2 are we talking about? You need to start there.




Edited by Earplug - 23 October 2021 at 10:16am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toastyghost Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 October 2021 at 1:55pm
You’ll spend the best part of 8 grand on a small live setup, if the venue needs a desk, mics, stands, DIs, wedges, cables, house backline and such.

Point the guy at a music shop and walk away.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Earplug Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 October 2021 at 3:59pm
Yes - or install the minimum to play muzak in the bar - and then hire in a system for the gigs. Maybe with an option to buy if things go well.

That way he can at least get the thing going and see if it will actually work before forking out 1000's - and it goes pear-shaped.


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