Starting a New Venue

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Member Since: Oct 14, 2010

Hello HRC,

I'll be starting a new venue in Wilmington, NC and I need some advice. To be completely honest I am coming from the business end and have little experience (relative to you all) in the world of sound. I will of course hire a professional when the time comes, but for now i need some numbers to work with for budget purposes.

The venue will be approximately 1,200 to 1,500 person capacity. It will have high ceilings (20-25 ft) and be a renovated commercial space. My total budget for lights and sound is around $150,000.

I know this is a rather general question and I'm sure I haven't provided enough specifics, but could someone throw me an educated guess on the cost of a setup of this size? I want this place to pack a punch. I don't want to skimp at all, I want professional all the way. That being said, i want it to be done as affordably as possible, so I have as much money leftover as possible for location and renovations.

Your help is much appreciated,


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The Czar of BS
Since: Dec 31, 2007

Oct 15, 2010 12:07 am

Hey Matt.

I'm glad to see that you are approaching this with real world expectations. A lot of places that I deal with, just toss out a number, and it is what it is. They don't care. As long as noise is coming out of something they are happy.

Realistically, it's a little tight. I'm assuming that your looking to attract national acts. If this is the case, then I think if you look for some used gear intermingled with new brand names, you should be close to your goal, if not going just a touch over.

Most national acts today are looking for a digital mixing console, and some sort of line array speaker system.

For the board, the brand names that they want to see would be Yamaha or Digidesign. Now brand new for each of their tour grade consoles are around $65k. Used, it can be as low as $35k. But, there are lower grades that are exceptable for both. For Yamaha, there is the MC7L - 48. And for Digi, there is the SC - 48. These are about $15k - $22k. Used, I think that you can find them for around $7k. Now used will have condition issues. But, the repairs are not that outrageous.

For the line array system, I would suggest Nexo Geo S 1210's. With the RS 18 subs. Definitely not the most expensive line array out there. However, it is one of the best sounding speakers ever made. I work with national acts on a daily bases. And I have yet have a band turn down a Nexo PA. Meaning that every band will be very happy to hear that is the speaker brand that you have installed.

Now, you have a choice that you can make here. You can have a monitor system in your venue, or have the band bring it in. Most opt to have the band bring their own. Or rent from a local vendor in your area. As you start to build your venue, I'm sure that you will be contacted by everyone of them. The company I work for does this for a venue called the Keswick here around Philly.

Obviously, going without monitors will be the cheaper option. And I just wanted to point out that this is a very common thing to do.

Your also going to need a ton of cable. Separate power service for lighting and sound. You have to think about the possibility of your PA coming out from time to time for service, and the rear band that just refuses to use any gear that you own. And just must use their own. (This happens a lot!!) And installation cost as well.

All and all, I think that you can come close to your goal of $150k. Or it may just be a little over.

I hope this helps, and not discourages you from your prospects. I wish you luck on your new venue. And if I can help you out with any details, please don't hesitate to ask.


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