How to design a sound system installation for a nightclub.

At Blacka Group we love installing big nightclub sound systems and are regularly asked to set-up rigs for large indoor and outdoor DJ events. Today Craig West our senior sound system installation engineer, will overview the equipment and the procedure for the design and installation of a DJ sound system for a large nightclub.

The Venue

As always the first point of call is the venue and due to the fact that we will be installing a relatively powerful nightclub sound system, checking the fabric of the building for reverberations and locating any problematic areas are very important. For this we bring in one of our test rigs and simply crank it up. It is also advisable to stand outside the nightclub and measure with a digital decibel meter for any noise leakage. If problems arise in any of these areas, we advise clients to engage an acoustic professional, prior to the nightclub sound system being installed. This will ensure that once installed, the sound system will be able to perform to its optimum capacity, without concern for vibration or sound leakage.

Next area to look out is the general layout of the space. Are there any physical obstructions such as walls, staircases or balconies that may negatively influence the dispersion of the sound? Is there a seated area that will need smaller additional speakers? If so to avoid music dead spots, additional satellite speakers may be required.

For our hypothetical nightclub installation, we will build a sound system that will comfortably cater to around 500 people. The nightclub will have a main stage area, overlooking the dance-floor and a covered mezzanine seated area in front of the dance floor.

Speakers Cabinets

Front of House Cabinets Bass Cabinets

The left and right ground stacked FOH sound system will comprise of;

  • 4 x Blacka Acoustics BS18 Bass Cabinets
  • 1000w RMS – 2000w Peak
  • 18” Bass Driver


Front of House Mid-High Cabinets

  • 4 x Blacka Acoustics Fes12 Mid-High Cabinets
  • 825w RMS – 1650w Peak
  • 2 x 12” Mid-High Drivers & 1 x 2” Exit Compression Driver.

Delayed Speaker Cabinets

This wall mounted satellite sound system will comprise of;

  • 4 x Blacka Acoustics 801 Mid-High Satellite Cabinets.
  • 240w RMS – 480w Peak.
  • 1 x 8” Bass-Mid Driver & 1 x 1” Exit Compression Driver.

The Digital Sound Processor

The Digital Sound Processor (DSP) is a hardware product that is generally housed in a protective rack with the amplifiers. The DSP is quite simply the brains of the operation. The DSP takes the raw sound source from devices such as DJ equipment and cleans it up, prior to sending to the amplifiers and speakers. DSPs include a wide variety of processing tools and selection should always be based upon the specific requirements of the venue and the installed sound system. 

Typical processing tools can include:

Limiter: Equalisation: Zone control: Gain Control: Crossover: Output limiters & Fire alarm connectivity:

Our nightclub sound system will be a 3 way system with a delay, so the DSP will require eight outputs for the left and right;   

Bass Frequency

Mid Frequency

High Frequency

Full Range Delays (mezzanine) 

Amplification

Amplifiers are an essential piece of hardware equipment needed for all sound system installations. In their simplest format, an amplifier take in a sound signal from the DSP, then boost it and delivers that amplified signal to the speaker units. Amplifiers come in many formats, generally based on the amount of power they can deliver into speakers. The power of an amplifier is measured in watts. The type of amplifiers and the power wattage needed for a sound system will be governed by the type, amount and power capacity of the speakers being used.

To power the nightclub sound system installation we will use a selection of amplifiers;

FOH Sound System

  • 1 x 8000 Watt Amplifier at 4 ohms running the (4 x Bass Cabinets)
  • 1 x 5000 Watt Amplifier at 4 ohms running the (4 x Mid High Cabinets)
  • 1 x 1000 Watt Amplifier at 4 ohms running the (High Frequency, Front of House)

Delayed Cabinet Amplifiers

1 x 2000 Watt Amplifier at 4 ohms running the (4 x Full Range Delays)

 

System Connectivity

Front of House Speakers Connectivity.

  • Two NL4 ‘legs'(left & right) are sent from the bass amplifier to the bass speakers.
  • Two NL4 ‘legs'(left & right) are sent from the mid amplifier to the mid speakers.
  • Two NL4 ‘legs'(left & right) are sent from the high amplifier to the High speakers.

Left Bass speakers are then linked
Right Bass speakers are then linked
Left Mid Speakers are then linked
Right Mid Speakers are then linked

Delayed Speakers Connectivity

  • Two NL4 ‘legs'(left & right) are sent from the full rangeamplifier full range speakers.

Speakers are then linked.

Additional Connectivity

  • Processor is linked to all amplifiers.
  • Source is connected to DSP.
  • Processor is connected to amplifier to delayed speakers.

Electrics

  • 8K amplifier will need a 32 amp feed
  • 5K amplifier will need a 32 amp feed
  • 1K amplifier will need a 13 amp feed
  • 2K amplifier will need a 13 amp feed

The Testing Process

Once the system has been set up, we go through a set-up process.

Once the system has been set up, we go through a set-up process.

  1. Turn all amps down.
  2. Power up the system.
  3. Run a signal through with amps turned down.
  4. Turn each channel up and down individually
  5. Ensure bass is going to bass, mid is going to mid etc.
  6. Ensure left is going to left and right is going to right.
  7. Set-up input and output limiters on DSP.
  8. Set up frequency bands for bass, mids, high and delays.
  9. Balance the bass, mid and high frequency output gains in DSP.
  10. Set equalisation.
  11. Calculate and set delays.
  12. Set limiters for the delays.
  13. Set the volume for the delays.
  14. EQ the delays.

N.B. If you are considering installing a new sound system for your nightclub, it is always important to consult a professional sound system engineer prior to investing in any equipment. We look forward to hearing from you and Craig is always available to provide a free of charge consultation.