by Don Roth | May 17, 2017
Sometimes, success creates its own challenges. A popular event can attract a huge crowd, but the sheer number of attendees can make it difficult for those guests to hear. That can translate into lost opportunities for participation, not to mention discomfort for guests and frustration for event managers. Fortunately, proactive audio planning before the event can make all the difference.

For the North Suburban YMCA in Northbrook, IL, a booming turnout for its 2016 annual fundraising dinner in a cavernous banquet space meant that guests had a difficult time hearing presentations, announcements, and auction calls. The venue's in-house system, while well-suited for background music, could not deliver the clarity of sound needed to reach an audience of hundreds of guests in a 27,800-square-foot facility. Event organizers were determined to do better for the 2017 gala.

"The live auction is one of the most crucial elements of our Strong Kids Fundraising Dinner," says Howard Schultz, NSYMCA president and CEO. "We have wonderful donated items for sale in the auction that bring in a significant portion of our fundraising totals. If guests can't hear well, it's impossible to engage them in the auction, and our fundraising suffers as a result."

The YMCA turned to us, AmpliVox Sound Systems, for expert advice and the right equipment to meet the challenge. AmpliVox partnered with the Y to supply specialized portable units that would cover each of the venue spaces. AmpliVox technicians designed connected coverage zones that included powerful yet unobtrusive units. 

In the main event area, with towering 20-foot-high ceilings and seating for almost 500 guests, AmpliVox placed two SW915 Digital Audio Travel Partner units at the front of the house projecting toward the audience. These 250-watt comprehensive PA systems were augmented by S1297 Wireless Powered Dual Speakers positioned at the rear of the room, as well as an SC800 Titan Wireless Powered Companion Speaker projecting toward a smaller seating area behind the main presentation stage. Wireless AmpliVox microphones were used by the event's emcee and auctioneer, allowing them to move freely through the audience.

AmpliVox design specialists also used the venue's open mezzanine space as an opportunity to enhance sound coverage. An S1297 placed on this upper level provided coverage for the busy bar and lobby spaces below it, keeping guests engaged with the event from all areas of the venue.

When the plan was put to the test at the March 9 gala, the sound system exceeded expectations. Over 475 attendees were connected, engaged, and enthusiastic thanks to the clarity of sound provided throughout the event. The live auction raised more than $225,000, funds that will enable families in need to participate in Y camps, swim lessons, and other life-changing programs. 

Lessons that all event planners can take from this experience:

1. Clarity of sound is absolutely crucial to the success of fundraisers, meetings, and all other events.

2. When utilized properly, portable systems are powerful enough to fill even the largest venues.

3. Strategic placement of equipment, with wireless connections between units, allows for comprehensive coverage to reach all listeners.

When planning your next event, don't neglect the importance of sound management. Work with your venue and consult with sound equipment professionals to ensure that your attendees can listen and participate to the fullest extent in comfort.

Don Roth is owner and CEO of AmpliVox Sound Systems, which designs and manufactures a wide array of sound and presentation furniture products. AmpliVox's Made in the USA products are used extensively in hospitality, educational, religious, athletic, and emergency response settings. For more information, visit Ampli.com.