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I need to pick the brains of people who are more experienced/skilled than I am.

I run sound at a stand up comedy venue. When I started, the gig was quite small and held outdoors, under a marquee. The venue owner has since built a large hall and I will need to expand my set-up, but am not sure what equipment to get or what the best solution will be.

I have not made a measurement, but I reckon the hall is about 50m x 15m (based on length of signal cable I had to run). It also has a high roof made of galvanised corrugated metal.

My concern is this: I’ve been using a pretty basic set-up (desk, 4 active speakers + mics/devices etc). If I need to expand, can I just add 2 speakers, or will the extra speakers or distance involved cause delays, or will the signal not be strong enough?

As it is, getting the EQ right has been a challenge and I feel as if I don’t have much headroom in the system.

What can I do to produce decent quality sound (vocal) while minimising feedback in a cavernous venue?

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If you are using active speakers, you should be able to add speakers pretty much ad infinitum as they each provide their own amplification. Delay shouldn't be a serious concern if you are placing the speakers in the same place.

If you spread them out, however, then delay does become an issue. Adding digital delays to the sends to some speakers (or in line between them) is the general way to deal with this and the amount of delay is based on when the sound from the first speakers reaches the later speakers.

Given the probably marginal acoustic properties of the room, it may also be worth investing in a 31 band EQ and borrowing a RTA (real time analyzer) to run pink noise at volume and make adjustments to the 31 band EQ accordingly to give you a level starting point. Alternately, if you have the funds, you could go straight to an RTA that includes the 31 band EQ automatically.

  • AJ is right. In relation to simplicity and AJ's RTA recommendation, I'd recommend the Behringer DEQ2496. It's ~$300, but is much easier to use with active speakers than the more expensive dbx brand. It will do all the things that AJ described (31 band EQ, pink noise, auto EQ, etc) and also has feedback prevention algorithms. You'll also need an RTA mic to run the auto EQ. The Behringer ECM8000 is ~$60. – Winston Chow Nov 20 '14 at 20:18

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