Dance club sound system installation

Crutchfield designs a very loud and highly reliable system for a popular college-town nightclub


Buck Pomerantz

Buck Pomerantz was born and raised in Philadelphia. His parents bought their first television set when he was born. He figured out how to run it by the time he was two. Besides athletics, his formative interests included electronics, amateur radio, music, and stage crew work. He got his BA in writing from Brown University. Then he joined a rock 'n roll band as their soundman and moved to Charlottesville, Virginia. After that venture failed, he spent time in Boston, New Orleans, and Berkeley. He worked in a music store in Austin manufacturing, installing, repairing, and operating sound systems for recording studios, clubs, and bands. He moved back to Charlottesville, ran a little recording studio and finally joined Crutchfield as a copywriter. He has 2 grown children and 3 grandchildren, but after a good nap he can still rock out.

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Trinity Irish Pub

Trinity Irish Pub, a busy nightspot near the University of Virginia, presents DJ music and dancing four nights a week. The club wants to entertain its patrons with hard-hitting music that will keep them coming back night after night.

Unfortunately, most of the speakers in their old system blew out after being played too loud for too long. The club needed better speakers and more power.

Dallas, with the amplifiers, speaker management device, and power conditioner

Dallas, with the amplifiers, speaker management device, and power conditioner

Dallas, one of Crutchfield's Pro Audio Specialists, worked with James, one of the house DJs, to come up with a system that would fit the size of the venue, put out enough sound so everyone in the crowd could feel the beat, and stay within the club's budget.

System design goal number 1: must be loud

Both James and Dallas like the way JBL speakers sound, so they started there. Dallas knew that to attain proper coverage in the room, the speakers would have to hang close to the ceiling, pointing downward, and handle about twice the power than the old speakers could.

System design goal 2: must be bullet-proof

"I wanted to make sure they had a perfectly matched system with PA management features," Dallas said. "Using the dbx DriveRack makes it a perfect system that can easily be setup and recalibrated as needed. Guest DJs simply plug in their rig and the system is set up so they can’t damage anything." And because restaurants and clubs usually have very inconsistent and noisy AC power, Dallas made sure the system included a power line conditioner and surge protector.

Here's the list of gear they decided to get:

JBL PRX412M 12" PA speakers (4): One of these speakers at each corner of the 20' x 30' dance floor provides full coverage.

JBL PRX418S 18" subwoofer: This 18" subwoofer really digs down low and puts out a terrific thump.

Crown XTI 4002 power amplifier: Powers the 12" PA speakers (2 speakers per channel, 600 watts per speaker).

Crown XTI 2002 power amplifier: Provides 1,600 watts of power to the subwoofer.

dbx DriveRack PA+ speaker management system: Limiter circuit protects the speakers. Auto EQ tunes the sound to suit the room.

Furman M-8Lx power conditioner: Protects the system from AC power spikes and eliminates noise that may radiate from the club's wiring.

It's no coincidence that the speakers, subwoofer, and amplifiers all have the same power ratings; JBL, Crown, and dbx are all part of Harman International, so their gear works well together.

Trinity XLR

XLR plugs for guest DJ rigs.

Tailoring the sound to the room

The dbx DriveRack PA+ includes a real-time analyzer (RTA) which, when you connect your calibration microphone, illustrates the sonic spectrum that results from the PA speakers' interaction with the room. This helps fine-tune a system to sound great, with no boominess, or shrillness, or unintelligibility to the sound anywhere in the room.

The DriveRack generates the calibration signal and uses dual 28-band equalizers to automatically shape the tone so all the frequencies sound right. Dallas set up a calibration mic in the center of the room, to make the measurements at an average listening position. He then chose the "DJ setup" preset for the target EQ curve, and the DriveRack's Auto EQ Wizard did the rest. Normally, one would then engage the automatic feedback suppressor at the end of the process, but the DJs at the Trinity Pub don't use microphones, so that feature wasn't used.

Trinity DJs

DJs John and Brian rocking out in the daylight

We rocked the joint

We visited the dance hall during the day, when it was empty and not packed with people as it usually is on dance nights. But DJs John and Brian cranked up the music for us anyway and it was crystal clear and plenty loud. The subwoofer provided a thick, driving beat that had most of us nodding along. If the daytime chaos created when the music played is any indication, every night must be a regular riot. An extra benefit of the careful speaker placement is that the sound stays focused and concentrated on the dance floor alone, and does not blast the other bar areas, where people want to talk.


Experienced professional installers mounted the four 35-pound speakers securely.

Mission accomplished

The Trinity Irish Pub has become the place for the college crowd to dance on Thursday to Sunday nights. It's so popular that they often have to turn people away at the door. "The system plays loud and clear and people can't get enough of it," DJ John said. "The new speakers sound awesome and really help make each dance night a blast." Check out the Trinity Irish Pub's system yourself — they're at 1505 University Avenue, Charlottesville, Virginia.

You want one too?

If you need help designing a sound system for your business, school, or church, call 1-800-555-9369 and talk to a Pro Audio Specialist at Crutchfield.

Trinity Irish Pub

The Trinity Pub dance floor at night

  • tamal_c from india,kolkata

    Posted on 5/12/2015 4:35:34 AM

    hello..impressed with the setup you did.i am from india (kolkata city) i am setting up a night club here.the area is 1100sq.feet dance floor,bar area 300 sq.feet and the ceiling is 3.7 can you help me setting up the audio and lighting system,i need all pro gears.thank you.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/12/2015 10:25:49 AM

    Tamal, Unfortunately, we're only licensed to sell gear in the United States and Canada. I don't even know what pro audio equipment is available in your country. An online search ought to bring up at least one pro audio dealership somewhere near you. Sorry we can't help.

  • Josias from Hamburg - Germany

    Posted on 6/4/2015 11:20:52 AM

    Hello Buck Your article is very interesting. Me and my friend liked it so much that we are going to use your nightclub concept for a presentation in your audio engineering school - SAE in Hamburg - Germany. We are currently going to present a project in our school, where we would be responsible for the sound installment, equipment choices and any other problem that might arise in a fictional club (as we would have to do in a real club) sound-wise. For our presentation we are going to use the exact same equipment list and room dimension as you did in this article.We are a bit uncertain about the signal flow in the club. How would you connect all equipment? How would you bring them together? Could you please go a little bit deeper into the signal flow chain that you would use for this situation? Aside from the DJ Mixer we assume we would need a main mixer in the club that redirects the dj signal to all 4 PAs and sub-woofer. Is a main mixer in the club really necessary, if the club in only going to host djs only and not live bands? One issue that we have in our presentation is that the walls in a fictional club are highly sound reflective. How would you approach this problem? We would be extremely grateful if you could reply us until Friday 06/05/2015. We understand that our request might not be fulfilled as we wish, but we would be eternally in your debt if you could do it. Cheers from Germany

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/5/2015 1:47:40 PM

    Josias, This club system does not have a mixer. It was designed for guest DJs to bring their own mixer and just plug in to the two XLR plugs shown in the third picture. From there, the left and right signals go to the dbx DriveRack PA+ speaker management system, where room EQ and protective limiting occurs. From there, the signals go to the first amplifier's inputs, and then are daisy-chained to the second amplifier's inputs. The first amp runs two speakers per channel - parallel connection. I'll assume you know how to connect a speaker to an amplifier's output with wire. The second amplifier is bridged, combining its two channels together, to drive the subwoofer. Room treatment is essential for good sound, so you'll want to come up with something to reduce reflections and reverberation. Also, carefully aiming the speakers from the ceiling down to the crowd helps a lot to control the sound's spread. Good luck with your virtual dance club.

  • Carmen from Ponce

    Posted on 9/20/2015 9:50:48 AM

    I will like to buy this same system with all wiring necessary to make it a plug and play. Can you contact me with total cost of it shipped to Puerto Rico 00716?

  • Dave Williams from Atlanta

    Posted on 9/27/2015 10:59:55 AM

    I am interested in buying this sane set up for my fraternity in Lexington VA. Do you all do instillation and any special effects too, lighting, smoke machines? Please reach out to me when you are available [email address removed] thanks.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/27/2015 11:16:30 AM

    Dave, I've forwarded your questions to Crutchfield's Sales Advisor Team, and a member will get in touch with you by email to offer suggestions and help you choose the right gear for you and your fraternity. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Kelvin from Warner Robins

    Posted on 10/6/2015 8:48:31 AM

    I'm looking for a similar build to fill a room much larger here in Georgia. I don't have the exact dimensions of it but it is 9,301SF. The space is pretty close to a square if not completely. Not sure if I will need more equipment or just higher series of the equipment listed here. I would like a quote on a design that allows a DJ to plug in as well as one that has it all. Additionally, there will be a mic occasionally in use.

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