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Thread: How much power needed for a small outdoor venue?

  1. #1
    New Member SegmentationFault's Avatar
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    How much power needed for a small outdoor venue?

    A friend asked me to DJ his 50th wedding anniversary party in June. He understands that this is just a hobby for me, I don't really know what I'm doing, but he wants me to do it anyway. I have everything I need to spin this new rock and roll craze the kids are wild about -- the latest Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, maybe even those Beatles kids. All I lack are speakers/amps for the venue. He told me find out what I need and he'll buy or rent whatever it takes to make it work.

    The venue is the problem. In his house we could just use the big honkin' speakers hooked up to his TV. But this is going to be a good 500 meters away from the house in a meadow with no source of electricity. That means we'll be using a generator, and we want to keep power draw down to a minimum so the generator doesn't drown out the music. There are no hills, walls, or anything to reflect sound, just a bunch of picnic tables and plastic chairs scattered around the small gazebo where I'm setting up.

    We do NOT need enough power for a rave. These are baby boomers (hence the Buddy Holly and Beatles -- I wasn't kidding about the playlist) who just want to hear their favorite songs but still be able to have conversations without yelling. The farthest away someone might be standing from the speakers is ~25 meters.

    There are maybe 3 sound system rental sources in all of Wyoming; the guy who comes most recommended doesn't have powered speakers so the plan is to go laptop=>mixer=>amp=>speakers. I'll just go with a pair, no subwoofer.

    So with that in mind, what do y'all recommend in terms of how much power (watts/dbs) the amp provides, speaker size, etc.? Our rental source has his own recommendations, but I want a second opinion from people who don't have a vested interest in how much I'm spending.

    Once we have that question settled I could use some help figuring out how much power the generator needs to provide for the specified equipment, but that's a problem for another thread.
    PBS

  2. #2
    Moderator DJ Bobcat's Avatar
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    Well... I donít do outdoor events, so Iím not gonna make recommendations, but if you have limited access to rental PA systems in your area, I have another suggestion...

    There ARE several DJís/DJ services in Cheyenne. Call one or more until you find one who can advise you and/or rent you the PA system for your event.

  3. #3
    For power.. If all you are plugging in is the sound system and maybe a few small lights (no blenders, coffee makers, refrigerators, or hot plates).. then you will be fine with a 2000W inverter type generator.. note INVERTER type. The most popular model is the Honda EU2000i, or the Yamaha EF2000is is just as good. And then there are similar brands Kipor etc that are cheaper, you don't have to buy this, you can rent them from tool rental places, Home Depot rents them from a lot of their locations. They are VERY quiet compared to the usual generator, just use a heavy duty 100ft extension cord to put it at a distance and you'll hardly even know it's running....

    One thing to know with this type of generator is that they have a switch for "Eco" (economy mode) which has to be turned OFF for sound equipment to be used with them. Else the generator will throttle wildly up and down. Make sure Eco is turned off.

    As far as speakers, again, rent em. A pair of 12 inch or 15 inch (if you want a bit more bass) powered speakers.. Electrovoice (EV), QSC, Yamaha.. will all be plenty for what you are doing, you will want to work with the rental co to make sure you have got the right hookup to your computer or whatever else you are using for DJing. Ideally you will want a little mixer if you haven't got one. So let's say you're DJing from your laptop.. you connect the laptop to the mixer and the mixer connects to the speakers with XLR cables that the rental place will give you.. and the laptop, the mixer, the two speakers.. each have their own power cord that goes into a power strip or a couple of power strips (you might want to spread the speakers out a bit) and that into the long extension cord and that into the generator, don't forget a gas can... the generator will run about 6-8 hours on a fillup but less if you crank things up. And oh yea, you'll want a pair of speaker stands.

    Set everything up at home beforehand so you know it's all figured out in the cable department.

  4. #4
    New Member SegmentationFault's Avatar
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    Thanks! I have a portable little mixer, a Behringer Xenyx 502. My plan is to drop by rental store this weekend with my stuff and give it a try, make sure the speakers carry far enough for my needs. But from what y'all are telling me, it sounds* like there won't be any problems.

    * no pun intended
    PBS

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by light-o-matic View Post
    just use a heavy duty 100ft extension cord to put it at a distance and you'll hardly even know it's running
    100ft might be a bit excessive, voltage drop could be a real problem at that distance with a typical garden extension. For me a "heavy duty" extension cord of that length would be 10ga but most people would have a heart attack at seeing the cost of something like that and would buy a 16ga. I say use a 50ft 12ga and point the exhaust away from your location or hide it behind a tree or vehicle if possible and you're good. These generators are really quiet, with music playing you won't know it exists.
    Paul O'Brien
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  6. #6
    New Member SegmentationFault's Avatar
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    So in case anyone is curious, the audio equipment guy demonstrated a Fender Passport PD250 Plus all-in-one mixer/amp/speaker kit that folds up into a suitcase and definitely carries far enough for my outdoor audience. My wife was in the car at least 30 meters away and complained it was too loud... and he only had one speaker plugged in at half power.

    It's only 250 watts total, so we can use a lightweight generator without too much sound interference. Thanks again to all who chimed in with their experience and suggestions.
    PBS

  7. #7
    Yea my friend has one of those Passport systems he uses for smaller events and they are actually pretty nice sounding, as long as you have reasonable expectations as far as the amount of overall volume and bass you are going to get out of it. I would never use one for a real dance party.. their output is significantly less than the kind of speakers most mobile DJ's use, but for your situation I'd expect a lot of conversation and just kinda casual fun and maybe just some dancing here and there and for that it should do fine.

    As far as the generator, yea for that system a Honda EU1000i would be plenty and you can carry it in one hand.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by conanski View Post
    100ft might be a bit excessive
    Obviously the less the distance the better, but I think that in this situation it'll be no problem at all. I've run systems over 10,000W on two ordinary 12 AWG 100ft extension cords of the Home Depot quality level and it works fine, no problem. The amount of power required for OP's setup is a LOT LOT less.

    As a point of reference, my most used system right now consists of 4 x dual 18 subs and 4 x dual 12 tops and I run that on a pair of 10AWG circuits (two 30A legs on an L14-30 plug) and sometimes up to 1200W of lighting off that same distro and get away with it. And I'll run that cable up to 200ft without too much worry. I mean, I'd rather go half that distance, but it works. The system being discussed here is the size of a peanut compared to that.
    Last edited by light-o-matic; 05-05-2019 at 06:19 PM.

  9. #9
    VIP Member Incognito's Avatar
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    My father-in-law owns one of the passport systems that he uses to play background music & make announcements for backyard eucre tournaments that he hosts. For what it is it's perfect for his intended applications since it is compact, simple to set up, simple to operate and has enough spl & dispersion to cover the space that he is trying to cover. As long as you understand the units intended applications & its limitations then it is an OK unit, it's not something I would suggest for DJing, however as a compact PA system for announcements & background music for small applications it works fine. The drawback is that it has a very limited growth path in that you can't expand on this system once you have outgrown it, your only practical option for expansion is to buy a whole new system from scratch. As a starter system with future expansion in mind, I would have suggested something like the QSC CP series of powered speakers (something like a pair of QSC CP 8) then when your budget allowed I would have added one of the QSC KS112 powered subs. Or if subs aren't an option you could have gone for a pair of QSC CP 12 which for the type of music you're looking at playing would perform well. At that point, you could have made your hobby turn into a form of 2nd income, get paid while doing what you enjoy. Either way, have fun.
    Last edited by Incognito; 05-06-2019 at 09:43 PM.
    If I had to play only for people who liked the music because they heard it on the radio, it wouldn't make me happy. -- David Guetta

  10. #10
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    A little late on my response, but many many years ago I tried to DJ an outdoor event with an 75 watt sansui b1000amp and 2 peavey 110H speakers (2 way with a 10" woofer) and it was a big fail. It wasn't loud enough and I pushed the amp so hard it heated up and shut off.

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