Your PA system in hotels and conference centres

(Video transcript) Hi. Paul Donovan here from Thanks for watching my channel. This is the channel where we're giving tips and tricks to AV technicians and those who would like to be an AV Technician.

I made a video not to long ago related to using ceiling speakers in hotels and banquet rooms. If you'd like to watch that video before you watch this one please click the link below. Watch that video before you watch this one. Or watch this one first and click on the other video related to ceiling speakers.

Today I'm going to talk about the idea of bringing your own sound system into a hotel ballroom, meeting room or conference centre.

One of the things that's happening a lot in hotels nowadays when you use your own sound system you override the need to use the ceiling speakers that are built into the hotel room. As I've already mentioned, ceiling speakers in hotels and ballrooms are not always the best of quality. In fact sometime they are quite ------ crappy? To be polite. You need to bring in your own PA system. I typically when I do an event when I'm bringing in own sound system I bring a minimum of 6 speakers for a room. If it's a little tiny room, of course, I wouldn't do that. I'm talking about a meeting room that can possibly seat, let's say a dining setup for 300 or 400 even 500 people. That's typically a ballroom sized thing that's about..... well I won't measure because I forget measurements... a big room But not a huge room. I will typically bring in 6 speakers.

I have a tendency to believe that I don't want all 6 of those speakers set up at the front of the room. Because that's overkill. It's wonderful if you want to setup a room that's narrow and long and wide. But it doesn't do any good if the room is deep as well. What happens is that if you set all your speakers at the front of the room it's nice and loud at the front of the room and the people at the front of the room are covering their ears, and complaining that it's loud. The people at the back of the room are going, "eh!!??" What's that? They can't hear.

Just like we do in hotel rooms where we use the ceiling speakers, where the sound is distributed around the room, we want to do the same thing with our 6 speakers, or even an 8 speaker setup. We want to distribute the speakers around the room. I'm going to try and demonstrate a little bit about what I'm talking about.

Start off with, naturally you're gonna wanna have a couple of speakers at the front of the room. I typically place those speakers right at the edge of the riser or stage. Near the podium. Be careful not to place the speakers behind the microphone at the podium. If you do you'll find major trouble with feedback. I like to place those speakers in the front line of the stage A lot of times the customers will complain about the speakers sticking up and blocking the view of the stage. If it's possible I'll take them off the stands and set them right on the corner of the stage. I'll also tilt them upwards just a little bit. If I'm standing them vertically, I'll tilt them up a little bit. If I'm laying them horizontally, I definitely will tip them up. What that does, basically, is that it fires the sound up over the heads of the people at the front, primarily your VIPs. You don't want them going deaf. I often do is tip them up just enough that the sound doesn't hit them directly. But it bounces around on top of them and comes down. It basically covers the middle section, front row. If there's four rows, it covers the first and second row. Those speakers also I tend put a little bit louder than other speakers I'm going to put in the room because I also want the rest of the room to have the feeling that the sound is coming from the front. I set them a little louder.

The next set of speakers depends on if you are doing a 6 or 8 speaker setup. If you're doing a 6, and the room is not too deep There are two areas you can put them in, one area is in the front corners, the opposite ends of the projection screens. I set them in the corner so that they are covering the sound for the right and left wings, the quadrant that's in the right and left side. Those speakers are great because you can have the 10 or 15 feet away from the first table and people won't get to angry with the volume being too loud and complain or even worse, I've seen people turn them around, unplug them, or turn them off because they thought it was too loud. Then you have an entire quadrant going "huh!?" because somebody was doing that to you.

If I an 8 speaker setup that's where I'll put those But if I have a 6 speaker setup I might decide instead to move those move those speakers up to the second row and aim them sort of across the room so that they are are covering the front quadrant of the two rows, aiming up straight to the centre back. There's a risk with that one is that the first quadrant in the back area those people might not get enough sound there's a possibility of that. Where possible I set those speakers against the side walls on the right and the left. I aim them at a 90 degree angle from the platform that way the sound comes across the room and gets people all the way to the 2nd and 3rd rows. Do be cautious, you miss your corner quadrants. That's what I do there.

The next set of speakers I primarily place at the back as re-enforcement for a variety of reasons. I could place them in the back corners and fire them inwards to cover the back row or two of tables. What that ends up doing is that it may cause that centre back row of people might not get sound clearly That's ok, if I'm not too wide in the room. My best position for putting the back speakers is almost directly opposite the stage speakers, maybe a bit wider. I place those speakers in that zone cuz this way they're moving forward with the sound, covering the whole centre section. Maybe as far as this first two rows of tables, three rows possibly.

There I've got a scenario of speakers that are now surrounding the room, giving everybody a jot of sound. If the hotel has given me permission to plug into the ceiling speakers very few hotels will ever say no. Some hotels will charge you a fee for doing so. If they allow you to do so, what I will do is I will have another fader that I'll set up just to feed the sound to the ceiling speakers. You're going to say, Paul didn't you say that the ceiling speakers are crappy. I did, but often times they are floating over top of the audience. You don't give them a lot of volume. You just give them so that you have a sense of sound coming from them. Not so much to blare out. What that does is that it fills in the little gaps that your PA system might not do.

Considering maybe adding the house speakers into your mix on a separate fader. I have talked about having these rows of speakers and having faders If you are running a sound system it is nice so you can wire your speakers so that you can control from the mixer board each row of speakers, independently controlled. Not left and right, although you can use the left and right channel. What you are doing is the speakers on the stage have a slider of their own. The speakers on the sides have a slider of their own. The speakers in the back have a slider of their own. If you are using the house speakers, its on it's own slider. Basically is if you are doing this nicely, an 8 speaker system and feeding the house system you need five sliders. A lot of mixer boards, the better mixer boards, have, of course, the right and left channel sliders, some of them also have sub-group channels. Aux sends, some boards have two AUX sends and and two FX sends. That gives you a lot of choice for methodology for sound to go out.

I do these things and what I find is really great a lot of times people will say wow, I really enjoyed the quality of sound. I very seldom get people complaining are it was too loud or too soft. I have done a few AGM's where there are floor microphones on the floor for people to make comments and questions to the head table. What I do there is a little trick that often people don't notice. I will place those microphone controls, I'll put them so that they feed to the sliders at a slightly higher volumes than the microphones coming off the stage. What that does is then I feed them to the back row. The back row speakers at a little higher volume for those microphones only, what that does is it sends the sound forward to the stage, and let's the people on the stage be able to hear clearly what is being said on the floor microphones. Assuming where I have a mixer board that I can control these things better what I often find is that this is the best way for me to trick the room where the speakers on the stage at the front are slightly louder, so people throughout the room hear the centre speakers and know that the sound is coming from the front. But the floor mics the sound is coming a little brighter from the back speakers and people are looking and realizing that the sound is coming from the back, or in this case the floor microphones. It's a little trick, subtle thing, you can do to enhance the sound for events.

The events I'm talking about are events that primarily have spoken word. If you are getting into events that have bands and musicians, and things need a better quality system then you need to move into the different systems. A lot of bands and DJ's will bring their own sound system anyway. You can be independent from them. If you find yourself doing an event where not are your speakers being used for the spoken of the event but are also being used by the entertainment then you need to have conversation with the entertainment to ensure that the speakers you are providing will provide them with the volume of sound that they need for the DJ and entertainment.

I work with a lot of basic speakers, passive, with independent amplifiers, independent sliders from my mixer board and i find that i can get sound that is so beautiful that the members of the event come to me and say, Oh, I could hear everything. Thank you. And that's important. You like to get compliments from your customers.

There's my tips and tricks for today about using your PA system in a ball room. Remember if you want to hear my story about using the built-in ceiling speakers in the ballrooms, please click the link below for another video related to ceiling speakers.

This is Paul Donovan from Please check out our website at Subscribe to this channel to keep up with what's happening in the world of AV technicians. Thank you for watching.

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Audio Visual Technician
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Tel: 604-837-7953