Should Wedding Couples Worry About Sound Quality?
This sounds like an obvious question and yet, when we have our initial consultation with a client, one of the least asked questions is around what equipment I use and the sound quality. I am sure it’s important to them. I think they just don’t know enough about this area and are hoping the DJ knows his stuff. Well, most DJ’s do, but some are better than others, and then there are those that don’t have a clue. Which one are you hiring for your wedding?
Over the past 20 years DJ equipment prices have dropped significantly and the average quality has gone up making it easier for part-time basement DJ’s start their business. However, the basic rule of thumb still applies, you get what you pay for.
Sound quality can make a huge difference to you and your guests. Listening fatigue is a real thing. This is when a system sounds great when you first hear it, but after about 20 to 30 minutes, it makes you want to run away. It is usually caused poor speaker design and the use of cheap components in the tweeter or horn making the higher frequencies sound harsh. As the volume goes up, it gets worse, almost like nails on a chalkboard.
Under powered systems are also an issue. Inadequate power combined with a lower speaker sensitivity can cause distortion at higher volumes. This makes the lower frequencies (bass) sound crackly, something nobody ever wants to hear at a wedding (or probably anywhere else).
One of the things you can do to get a better understanding of your DJ’s sound system is to a one simple question. “What is the SPL rating for the speakers they are planning to use at your wedding?” This the maximum volume a speaker will product without distortion (clipping) at 1 meter away. I guarantee you will knock your DJ off his or her chair when you ask this this question. If they don’t know the answer, that should be a huge red flag and a clear sign you are dealing with non-professional. I would recommend a minimum at least 125 decibels for a hall of about 100 people as a guide (decibels are a measure of sound volume). Our RCF speakers are rated at 129 decibels. That 4 decibels doesn’t sound (no pun indented) like much, but in the world of sound measurement, that is a perceived increase of about 70% volume. The higher this number, usually (but not always) the better the speaker design and quality. For reverence, a modern commercial jetliner at take off is about 130 to 135 decibels.
Some other considerations. Even though the DJ may have speakers capable of sound volume equal to a jet aircraft:
1. Most of us never use that level at a venue as it simply isn’t required.
2. Volume can drop off significantly the further you are away from the sound source.
3. People are great sound absorbers, the more bodies in a room the more volume you need.
4. The size of the hall itself or if you are having an outdoor event can have huge effect. Halls have walls and ceilings, which allow sound waves to bounce off and back to the listener requiring over all lower volumes. Outdoor events have little to no surfaces for sound waves to bounce of off, so more volume may be required.
A reputable DJ will take pride in their sound system and invested many hours and money to create a terrific experience for their clients. However, less expensive DJ’s will purchase cheap equipment using the “good enough” mentality. For us this is just not acceptable for the most important day of your life!
Starlight DJ Services is a mobile DJ and Entertainment company based in Dorchester, Ontario and services all of South Western Ontario.
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