by Don Roth | September 24, 2017
Outdoor events pose special challenges for organizers, including how to be sure your audience can hear presentations clearly and comfortably in a large area. All kinds of background noises -- including wind, traffic, conversation, and even insects -- come between your presenters and listeners, and the lack of building structures deprives you of any acoustical advantages. Whether your occasion is a corporate meeting, a social gala, a golf outing, or an athletic event, you need sound-system support to overcome these obstacles with a minimum of fuss.

Fortunately, today's portable sound systems deliver powerful amplification in compact units that can go almost anywhere and set up in minutes. These all-in-one PA units can support wireless microphones, stream music from Bluetooth-equipped devices, and pair with supplementary speakers to provide customized sound coverage for audiences of up to 7,500 people or areas up to 15,000 square feet for multiple presenters.

In planning for sound coverage at outdoor events, consider these special issues:

What types of power sources are available on-site? If AC power is not easily accessible, look for sound systems with built-in rechargeable batteries. Top-quality systems can provide up to 10 hours of clear, powerful sound on a single charge.

How many microphones will you need, and what type? Wireless mics are a natural choice, allowing presenters to move freely on-stage or in the audience. Look for sound systems that support more than one microphone with integrated 16-channel UHF receivers to avoid interference. Need to provide multiple mics for group presentations? Supplement your sound system with a compatible external mic receiver for additional connections. 

Wireless microphones are available in various forms, including handheld, lapel, headset, and inconspicuous over-ear versions. Consider how your presenters will be using the mics and under what types of weather conditions.

How do I position sound systems for the best coverage? Careful placement of speakers is crucial to successful coverage. Position your speakers so the sound projects toward the area where the main portion of the audience will be. To ensure the sound carries over and past the people that are closest to the speakers, use speaker stands. This will improve comfort for listeners near the speakers, and clarity for those farther away. If conditions are windy, look for extra support structures to prevent stands from blowing over.

Advance planning also goes a long way toward ensuring success. Weather permitting, set up and test your equipment the day before the event.  Be prepared -- in case of emergency, have an audio backup plan that includes having spare mics, cables, and batteries on hand. 

Don Roth is CEO of AmpliVox Sound Systems. AmpliVox designs, engineers, manufactures, and sells top-quality portable PAs, megaphones, lecterns, and office furniture options. AmpliVox Sound Systems carries a large selection of portable sound system products to fit events, venues, and audiences of any size. Learn more at Ampli.com. To reach up to 7,500 indoors or out, the AmpliVox SW925 Digital Audio Travel Partner Plus, pictured, can be set on a tripod to enhance sound coverage.