1st Edition

The Sound System Design Primer

By Josh Loar Copyright 2019
    610 Pages
    by Routledge

    610 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Sound System Design Primer is an introduction to the many topics, technologies, and sub-disciplines that make up contemporary sound systems design.

    Written in clear, conversational language for those who do not have an engineering background, or who think more in language than in numbers, The Sound System Design Primer provides a solid foundation in this expanding discipline for students, early/mid-career system designers, creative and content designers seeking a better grasp on the technical side of things, and non-sound professionals who want or need to be able to speak intelligently with sound system designers.



    List of Figures

    Preface: Why This Book? Who Is This Book For?


    Introduction: What This Book Does, and How It Works

    A Note on Safety


    Part I: What is a Sound System?

    What is a sound system? How does sound itself work? What are the components we need in order to get signal to our audience? Examining the fundamentals of sound, and all the standard components of a contemporary sound system.

    Section 1: Basics

    Chapter 1: The Four Standard Elements of the Analog Sound System

    Chapter 2: The Four Standard Elements of the Digital Sound System

    Chapter 3: What Is Sound?—Part 1: Acoustic Version

    Chapter 4: What Is Sound?—Part 2: Electric Version

    Chapter 5: What Is Sound?—Part 3: Digital Version

    Section 2: Inputs

    Chapter 6: Microphones (Wired)

    Chapter 7: Microphones (Wireless)

    Chapter 8: Direct Inputs (Instruments, Turntables, Etc.)

    Chapter 9: Playback Devices and Systems

    Section 3: Processing

    Chapter 10: Preamplifiers and Mixing Consoles

    Chapter 11: Effects—Part 1: Creative and Mixing Effects

    Chapter 12: D.S.P.: Digital Signal Processing

    Chapter 13: Effects—Part 2: System Calibration Effects

    Section 4: Amplification

    Chapter 14: Power Math

    Chapter 15: Power Amplifiers (plus a Note on Power Conditioners,

    Uninterruptible Power Supplies, and Distros)

    Section 5: Outputs

    Chapter 16: Speakers

    Chapter 17: Monitoring Systems

    Section 6: Computers and Sound

    Chapter 18: Networks and Connectivity

    Chapter 19: Show Control

    Chapter 20: Triggers, Sensors, and Customization

    Section 7: Communication Systems

    Chapter 21: Audio Com Systems

    Chapter 22: Paging Systems

    Chapter 23: Video Com—We Know It’s Not Audio, But It’s Almost Always Our Job Anyway!

    Section 8: Connections

    Chapter 24: Cable Types and Their Uses

    Part II: How Do You Set Up, Test, and Calibrate a Basic Sound System?

    How do you assemble a sound system? How do you test your gear and troubleshoot problems? Beginning designers often have to do this work themselves, and any designer needs to understand how their system fits together. Examining the installation process.

    Section 9: Installation

    Chapter 25: Signal Flow, from Installation to Verification

    Chapter 26: Testing and Troubleshooting

    Section 10: Calibration

    Chapter 27: Measurement Tools and Systems

    Chapter 28: Measurement Practices, System Calibration and


    Chapter 29: Acoustic Treatments and Other Solutions

    Part III: What Type of Sound System Do You Need?

    What are the special questions that need to be asked in each discipline? What are the differences in expected process? What are the schedules and special terms? Examining different sound system types by discipline.

    Section 11: The Basic Process of System Design

    Chapter 30: Understanding the Source Material

    Chapter 31: Understanding the Venue

    Chapter 32: Understanding the Audience

    Chapter 33: Understanding the Budget and Available Resources

    Chapter 34: Selecting Loudspeakers and Positions (Loudspeaker Modeling)

    Chapter 35: Selecting the Remaining Equipment and Plan for Operation

    Chapter 36: Refining Your Choices

    Section 12: The Different Types of Sound System

    Chapter 37: Concerts, Small Scale

    Chapter 38: Concerts, Large Scale, and Festivals

    Chapter 39: Theater—Straight Plays

    Chapter 40: Theater—Musicals

    Chapter 41: Conventions and Other Multi-Room Live Events

    Chapter 42: Performing Arts Venues and Houses of Worship for Permanent Installation

    Chapter 43: Supermarkets, Airports, and Other Retail Spaces

    Chapter 44: Theme Parks, Cruise Ships, Casinos, and Other Themed Environments

    Chapter 45: Recording/Mixing/Mastering Studios (Project and Commercial) for Music, Film, etc. (Including a brief note on Sound Stages for Visual Media)

    Chapter 46: Corporate Offices, Hotels, Restaurants, and Other Architectural Environments

    Chapter 47: Creative Systems—Multimedia Art Galleries, New Media, New Uses

    Part IV: How Do You Document and Present Your Design?

    What do you need to do in order to ensure you present your work professionally and effectively? Examining the process, from first meeting to final design documents.

    Section 13: Technical Drawing

    Chapter 48: Basic Technical Drawing Standards (Organizing and Labeling, Drawing Setup, Notes on Computer Drafting, etc.)

    Chapter 49: Plan and Elevation Views (including Rack Elevations)

    Chapter 50: System Block Diagrams (Audio, Control, Network Risers)

    Chapter 51: Mounting Details

    Chapter 52: Magic Sheets

    Section 14: Other Technical Documentation

    Chapter 53: Hookups and Workbooks

    Chapter 54: Equipment (Hardware, Cable, RF, IP, etc.) Schedules and Facilities Impact Reports

    Chapter 55: Budget Documents

    Chapter 56: Technical Narratives

    Chapter 57: Presentation Packaging (to Clients, Bidders, and Integrators)

    Section 15: Presenting Your Work to Paying Clients

    Chapter 58: First Presentations

    Chapter 59: Revisions

    Chapter 60: Finalizing and Signing-Off

    Afterword: What Comes Next—A Path Forward for The System Designer

    Bibliography and Further Reading




    Josh Loar is a sound, lighting, video, and control system designer who has designed projects all over the world, from theaters, to concerts and festivals, to corporate events and conventions, to theme parks. He has worked as a professional designer for more than 20 years. He has designed and engineered systems for clients including Walt Disney Imagineering, Lotte Group, Busch Gardens, and more. He is co-chair and co-author of the upcoming ESET (Essential Skills for Entertainment Technicians) test in audio. He is chair of the USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology) Sound Graphics Working Group, working on issuing new and more comprehensive documentation standards for theatrical sound paperwork. He is an accomplished FOH (Front-of-House) and recording engineer, having worked with artists including Paul Simon, David Byrne, Mos Def, Rickie Lee Jones, Charlie Haden, Philip Glass, and many, many more (he has genuinely lost count). He is an educator who has been teaching at the university level for nearly a decade, at Yale School of Drama and now at Michigan Technological University. He is also a multimedia artist, musician, producer, director, and creator of lots of different kinds of weird art. He enjoys long walks in the woods, good whiskey, and the company of intelligent people. Check out his work at www.joshloar.com

    "[This] book can be enjoyed by newcomers and seasoned pros alike. Whether looking to start a career in audio technology, or brush up on your skills, look no further than The Sound Design Primer." - Brandon Cudequest, Journal of the Audio Engineering Society