7 Outdoor Sound Reinforcement Solutions
Choose an Outdoor Sound Reinforcement System that Fits Your Needs
Indoors, acoustic reflections help the sound system amplify the sound.
Outdoors, these reflections disappear, taking with them the perceived power of your system.
To provide the same level of sound reinforcement as an indoor system, an outdoor system must nearly double in power.
In addition, outdoor sound reinforcement systems should have features (such as batteries, portability, and weather-proof construction) that address other common outdoor scenarios.
Here are 7 Outdoor Sound Reinforcement Solutions that will meet these challenges and keep your events running smoothly!
1. Rally Around the Megaphone
Whether you’re going to a pep rally, a street fair, or a political demonstration, the outdoor sound reinforcement system you’ll most likely hear is the familiar megaphone.
Within their limited frequency range, megaphones are ideal for amplifying human voices.
Their tapered parabolic shape naturally projects sound waves in an elongated conic section over large distances. For this reason, megaphones are best used for narrow audience layouts or for directing crowds.
What megaphones lack in fidelity and peripheral coverage, they make up for in affordability, portability, and ease of use. Their lightweight and durable construction is ideal for crowd control and security, which is why they remain a favorite PA system for police and fire departments.
The power rating of most megaphones runs from 5 to 50 Watts. Because of their design, even megaphones with low wattage can be heard hundreds of feet away. The ALS25 megaphone pictured above, for example, packs 25 watts of power with a measured range of 792 feet.
2. Tour Guide Systems to Go
Walking tours are a great way to see a city or the countryside. For tour groups on the go, wireless tour guide systems allow discreet and private narration for each member of the tour.
Tour guide systems consist of a portable transmitter and a variable number of receivers and headsets. Narration is directly broadcast from the guide’s transmitter to the headset receivers of the tour group, saving the guide’s voice and respecting the privacy of other tourists.
These systems broadcast on FM frequencies, and a number of them sold by AudioLink (like those made by Williams Sound) are ADA compliant systems. As such, these tour guide systems are a great way to communicate with groups containing hearing impaired individuals.
Many tour guide systems feature multiple channels, so separate audio content can be delivered to different group members at the same time so long as leaders are broadcasting on different channels.
Tour guide systems are expandable simply by purchasing more receivers or more transmitters, so it’s easy to increase the size of your group as well as the number of available channels.
3. Small PA Systems for Small Group Outings
Perhaps you’re planning an outdoor wedding reception, and the bridesmaid wants to deliver a toast without straining her vocal chords. Or maybe you need a sound reinforcement system to call people into the chow line at your barbecue.
If you anticipate an intimate outdoor event, consider choosing small PA systems which are portable, compact, and well suited for voice amplification.
Unlike megaphones, which feature a parabolic horn as part of their design, small area PA systems come in all shapes and sizes for a wide range of applications.
For outdoor audiences of up to 50 people, small area PA systems with up to 50 watts of power provide the extra wattage and fidelity that you need.
One final note: whenever you can afford it, opt for a bigger PA than your crowd requires. A large PA can comfortably amplify voices to a small group, but a small PA must strain to cover larger events, producing harsh distortion or clipping that can damage your loudspeakers and annoy your audience.
4. Expandable Mid-Range PA Systems Work Well for Outdoor Sporting Events
For sporting events such as softball games, volleyball matches, or even equestrian events in riding arenas, choose a sound reinforcement system that can communicate clearly to both fans and athletes.
A megaphone or a mini PA won’t reach listeners seated in the round or spread around a wide area, and a small area PA doesn’t have the wattage necessary for large audiences. Mid range PA systems designed for 50 – 200 spectators are ideal for most sporting events that take place in small outdoor arenas.
Mid range PA systems with 50 to 150 watts of power include a wide range of features such as additional inputs for microphones and media players. Mid range PAs are cost-effective solutions for outdoor sporting events.
Moreover, expandable mid range PA systems can even cover larger areas – such as a football field. For large field events where the spectators are spread out – baseball, football, and soccer games come to mind – choose a sound reinforcement system that can be expanded with additional speakers to cover the play area.
For outdoor stadiums, horn-speaker systems like the wireless Half Mile Hailer pictured here are a popular and weather-resistant choice.
This sound reinforcement system features an amplifier with two rugged speaker horns, and is expandable for a total of four speakers, making it easy to stretch your sound a full 100 yards.
5. Two-way Communication for Sport and Safety
Organized amateur or professional sporting events (as well as concerts) can draw large crowds and make coordinated crowd control a necessity. Production Intercom (PI) makes systems that help your security team keep the crowds flowing smoothly before, during, and after your event.
A field PI system is similar to a tour guide system in that it features transmitters and headset receivers. Unlike tour guide systems, intercom headsets transmit as well as receive for two-way communication between operatives.
These durable and reliable outdoor intercom systems also are ideal for production crews. Coaches can also use these systems to communicate with assistants or other members of their staff.
Audiolink offers intercoms to fit your event and your budget. Note that the systems sold by AudioLink can be expanded to accommodate additional headsets or strings of headsets.
6. Sound Cruiser Systems to Mount on Your Vehicle
Megaphones and mini PA systems are portable, but are impractical for situations such as parades or bicycle races when the announcer is in a vehicle. Traditional megaphones and mini PA systems can only cover one side of the vehicle at a time, and the announcers may need to keep their eyes on the road.
For these events, consider a specialized PA system such as an Amplivox Sound Cruiser (pictured) which you can attach to the roof of a car or a truck.
Sound Cruisers run on battery power or from your vehicle’s cigarette lighter, and feature optional wireless headset microphones to keep your hands free for driving.
With 50 watts of power, this powerful system can project your voice for 100 yards, making Sound Cruisers suitable for large crowds along parade routes or city streets. They are also ideal for politicians or other campaigners taking their message to crowded public spaces.
Sound Cruiser systems are not only great for land-based events, but also their weatherproof construction makes them suitable for mounting on a boat to reach audiences for events such as boat racing or water skiing.
7. Sound Reinforcement Systems for Outdoor Concerts
If you’re planning an outdoor concert, big or small, picking the right sound reinforcement system is critical. The qualities that make megaphones and hailers ideal outdoor PA systems for the voice can tax the most hardened ear when used to reproduce music.
A sound reinforcement system used for music must reproduce everything from pumping bass beats to soaring soprano vocals. This is why a PA system designed for speech reproduction may not be suitable for music.
Also, for true reproduction of your music a stereo outdoor sound reinforcement system is the recommended choice. A single loudspeaker is great for vocalists or giving low-end heft to a live mix, but even a small group of acoustic musicians can benefit from full, lush stereo sound.
With large audiences or performers with complicated stage setups, sound reinforcement for live music can become a tricky business. But if you’re starting from scratch, and your amplification needs are few, all-in-one PA systems with powered mixers and speakers are both simple and relatively inexpensive.
Choose an Outdoor Sound Reinforcement System that’s Ideal for You
These 7 ways to use outdoor sound reinforcement systems are only the beginning.
Still have questions? Call 1-800-263-0112 or email AudioLink’s expert staff for help putting together your ideal outdoor sound reinforcement system!