What is the most important part of a sound system and recording?

People sometimes ask me what I consider to be the most important part of the sound system. Thinking to myself the word “talent”, but usually I say that it is the acoustics of the room.

There are many great pieces of gear available, and if you spend the money for the really good gear, you are still limiting quality and perceptual experience by the room acoustics. And usually, the acoustics are still the most neglected and underfunded architectural feature in any meeting space.

Last month I did an amazing sounding show for 1500 people in a large hotel venue in Orl that I have worked in many times before. 30 ft corrugated steel roof, cinderblock walls, inadequately covered by some bad acoustic panels, and a carpeted floor, that is nearly acoustically useless, since it is blocked by 6 ft round hard wooden banquet tables.

But, my client is sensitive to audio, speech intelligibility, and tries to deliver a meeting that considers all their audience’s sensibilities..not just the looks of the event. So they draped the entire room!! And it was a LOT of drape..

The reverb time went way down, and as a result, it sounded like a recording studio control room. It was perfect for the high level executive panel discussions, and soft spoken presenters. And the jazz band with vocalist entertainer could be mixed at a pleasant volume. Since I wasn’t having to fight with the room’s reverb time frequency artifacts, I needed much less eq on the instruments…just used good mics and let the band play.

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