I have a music production job coming up. It's in a night club, working with artists and dancers.
It's an extended workshop, building up to a big live show at a later date.
The night club has a stereo system, but the room treatment is pretty bad. Huge waterfall on REW, crazy nulls and peaks around the room.
Obviously when it's packed with people it sounds alright, but this will be more like a black box theatre.
In addition, there will be two huge (4m2) LED video walls forming a right angle wall. The dancers will be in front of this.
I'm about to put together the music for the workshop. I have two questions.
1) are there certain frequencies or rhythms you would avoid? My instinct is to leave a huge amount of space in the compositions, to allow for 500ms+ waterfalls and reflections. Also keep bass sounds very short and staccato. No LFO bass drones etc.
2) where would you put the speakers and sub woofers? Obviously the only way to really find out is to try different options. I wonder if anyone has heuristic / gut instincts as to where they might go, or where they should NOT go.
Thanks. It's really helpful to be able to formulate these questions here.
I've only done live sound once in a cafe so maybe someone more experienced can jump in.
That room is about 6500ft3 - pretty nice! Even so, it still qualifies as a 'small room' acoustically. Your best bet for sound is to bring insulation and put it in the corners behind the LED wall. You can also place some in front of the walls. I don't think this is what you're asking, though.
Spare compositions, in the low end especially, are generally a good idea. Like you acknowledged, the room is going to add decay to whatever sound you have. The current buzzword for EDM is 'shorten the kick'. Make of that what you will.
Since you're composing the music for this room specifically, you can account for the ringing frequencies. 8.5m, 7.3m & 3m will ring at about C#1, E1 & G2 respectively. That means E Dorian will be a good key for the room. G Lydian might also work. Those two modes are from D major but I wouldn't use that due to the leading tone room fundamental and the G2 resonance instead of an F#. A Mixolydian would give you emphasis to a rootless tonic seventh chord; though the E would help imply it. I think A Mixolydian will be best, then E Dorian & G Lydian last.
I mention this because I remember reading in Ethan's book that ringing can influence how we perceive the tonality of music. In that light, you want to avoid keys which are one semitone away from the ones I'm interpreting the room to suggest. Though dance music is often 'mixed in key' with perfect fifth, perfect fourth, or parallel modulations, the room here is a filter and time relativity (song-to-song impressions) won't apply to it. For example, if you were to instead compose with D Mixolydian (a perfect fourth up), the C# room mode will clash with your key's minor seventh tone. It would be fun if you try it out: compose a piece and transpose it from A Mixolydian to Ab or Bb Mixolydian and listen to whether you notice a difference.
From what I understand, a good starting place for a sub is 1/4 width along a short wall. Again, behind the LED panels should be fine. Alternatively, you can put it in front but then you have people there. You've got eight spots to pick from, including the ceiling.
The speakers will be tricky. I imagine that mounted high or above, angled down, in front of the led panels is best. You could also try just outside of them, angled in. If you have to use floor stands then the latter option is probably best.
This is really helpful. I hadn't thought about the modes like that - it's so obvious. When I first used the space a few months ago the booming was un believable, like nothing I'd ever experienced.
Going in there later today to set up the sound system. I'll also record a response in REW once it's set up, and then import it into convolution reverb to get a rough sense of the effects while finishing off the tracks this week.
The main thing is that it sounds alright for the dancers, doesn't tire them out.
EDIT - there's this software I've been using which is really helpful. Room Shaper by Home Audio Fidelity. We did some tests in the space and it makes a huge difference to the decay times.