Marching band technology, both on and off the field, has come a long way in the last couple of decades. These days, groups from small high school programs all the way up to major marching circuits like DCI and BOA use an array of electronics, software and other technologies. Whether to amplify your sound, fill in gaps, improve your range or experiment and explore, field audio is an exciting adventure.
Admittedly, it can also be a lot to take in if you’re new to the technology. Remember, when you’re looking to buy tech equipment, it’s best to buy superior items, even if that means you build the program over time based on your budget. A poor audio system can ruin your sound, instead of enhancing it. Plus, going with low-cost over high quality could leave you with more breakdowns and cost more in the long run.
Rest assured, it is possible to incorporate technology into a traditional marching program without losing that unique marching band sound. Plus, with kids plugged into technology at all times, incorporating it into marching band may excite them and keep them interested, which will keep the magic going!
Famous programs like the Blue Devils and the Bluecoats (both recent DCI World Champions) use extensive field audio and technology to create their signature sounds. Blue Devils have partnered with brands like PreSonus and Audio-Technica for their setups while the Bluecoats have been known to use brands like RCF and Roland. You know if world renowned drum corps like the Blue Devils and the Bluecoats are welcoming technology into their programs, it’s here to stay.
This field audio buying guide will help you figure out what you need to create the best sound possible for your marching program.
A mixer is one of the first things you should consider when bringing field audio technology into your marching program. Your entire sound system will revolve around your mixer. It provides audio inputs and outputs, routing, effects, amplification options and more. Learn about how a mixer works or why you might want to choose a digital mixer.
Microphones are a mainstay of any sound system. There is a huge variety of microphones on the market, including wireless mics, handheld wireless systems, instrument mics, mics that are great for vocals, boom microphones … the list goes on and on. It’s critical to assess who and what will be miked and whether they’ll be moving or stationary. For example, you’ll want different microphones for marching horn players versus mics for stationary pit instruments. For more detail, check out how to buy a microphone.
Speakers are a critical component of any audio setup, since they are projecting the sound to your audience and fans. Purchasing high-quality speakers can make the difference between great and terrible sound. You’ll find superior speakers from brands like Peavey and Behringer.
You need amps to make your sound BIG! The instruments themselves are loud, and the microphones and speakers project, but when you’re playing in a loud stadium or large arena, you need to amplify that sound. Plus, amplification allows players to use more finesse and focus on technique, instead of abusing their instruments in the name of volume.
You’ve been using metronomes and tuners for your entire career and just because you’re adding technology to your program doesn’t mean you should abandon the fundamentals. These basics are absolute essentials to keep your students practicing efficiently and preventing bad habits.
Korg makes great tuners and metronomes, including clip-on styles and combination models that are perfect for marching programs.
You’re going to need to move your mixer, speakers and other equipment across parking lots, over fields, and into vehicles for transportation. And for that, you need some durable and well-crafted carts and racks made specifically for these uses.
In order to connect all of these various products and make them into a well-oiled sound solution, you’ll need accessories like cords, cables and snakes, stage tape, lights, batteries, headphones and microphone stands. We carry all of these items and anything else you might need to put the finishing touches on your system. And don’t forget a power supply – depending on where you’re performing, you may need your own generator!
Creating a marching audio system might sound difficult. There are a lot of elements to consider, but it’s best to start by establishing your basic needs. You don’t need all of the bells and whistles right away – in fact, you may never need them!
If you need additional help, we have a library of music technology articles to help you learn more. And, you’ve got music experts standing by to help you purchase the right products for your program and your budget. We’re proud to carry everything you need to create the best field audio system for your marching band. Plus, we offer educator discounts on nearly everything we carry. Call us at 800.346.4448 to get started.