Performing with accompaniment tracks
Regarding Performing With Instrumental Accompaniment Tracks
(which are a “fun, fun, fun" option... and available for several of my arrangements)
I recommend either of the 2 following sound systems with which to play the accompaniment tracks. With either system, there is literally no set-up or tear-down time. The speaker cabinet(s) and your iPhone is all you need!
1. Rockville RAM15BT 15" Speaker / Mixer with 4 to 6 hr Rechargeable Battery (with 2 wireless hand-held mics and bluetooth) ($260). <https://www.rockvilleaudio.com/ram15bt-v2/> I'm also including a link for replacing the 12 volt battery (if ever necessary). <https://www.rockvilleaudio.com/content/Manuals/RAM-BT_BattRemovalInstructions.pdf>
These Rockville speaker units have small wheels and a telescoping handle (like a small rolling, "carry-on" airline suitcase) and are relatively easy to move around (49 lbs).
2. JBL EON One Compact Portable PA Mixer / 8" Speaker with 6 to12 hr Rechargeable Battery and bluetooth) ($575.... with payment plans as low as $12 mo/48 month). <https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/EONOneCom--jbl-eon-one-compact-portable-pa-speaker-with-rechargeable-battery> This unit is much more money, but definitely a higher quality "pro sounding" system.... and easier to move around. The unit is much smaller than the Rockville unit, and therefore does not have wheels (handle only). However, the speaker unit is extremely light (17.6 lbs) and can be easily lifted/carried. A small airline "cart" (with wheels) could be purchased as an optional means of transporting the speaker(s).
Both of these sound systems are completely wirelessly controlled from your iPhone or iPad,... There are NO connecting cords/wires at all!! All components connect via bluetooth. Use one speaker unit for small 10 to 25 voice ensembles... and two units for 26 on up ensembles. Download the mp3 instrumental accompaniment track to your mobile device (iphone, ipad, etc.), cue up the accompaniment track, turn your speaker system on, press play (on your iPhone/iPad, etc.), and you’re good to go!
For singing situations where there are no risers, place the Rockville unit(s) on the floor behind the group. Place the JBL unit(s) on (a) chair(s) or stool(s) behind the group. If you’re using one speaker unit, position it 2 or 3 feet behind the back row, center of the ensemble. If you’re using two speaker units, position the speaker units behind the ensemble with the speakers spread apart about 7 to 15 feet (depending upon the size of the ensemble).
Have one of the ladies in the back row (center) be the "sound lady", turning the tracks on and off, changing the tracks (if you have more than one song with an accompaniment track), and setting the speaker volume. She can do all of this right from her iPhone!! She should still be able to sing once the accompaniment track begins and an adequate volume level has been established. The only downside for her and other close-by singers would be the volume of the speakers. They will not hear their own voice as much as they're used to.
If you're moving around, e.g., in shopping mall situations, have various ladies take turns transporting the speaker unit(s). Make sure the rechargeable battery on the speakers has been fully charged prior to the singout! Also turn the speaker system OFF when not in use (to conserve battery life).
Prior to the performance, practice with this set-up several times to get the "sound lady" (and all singers) "okay" with a track playback volume level that will allow all chorus members to hear the track just enough to tune and sync with it. Note (or mark) the volume level on the iphone/pad that seems to be about right. Then use it as a basic reference starting point. Every place you move to will have different acoustic characteristics (audience noise (talking), background mall music, high/low ceilings, "hard" and "soft" wall/ceiling surfaces, etc.), so the track volume level may need to change a bit. As I mentioned above,... the ladies, especially towards the back of the chorus, must realize they will NOT hear their voices as much as they're used to hearing... as they sing along with an accompaniment track!
Don't worry about the audience hearing the track. It will be slightly muffled set up behind the ensemble, but the singers will definitely be featured above the sound of the accompaniment track,... and the audience should hear just enough of the track for it to add positively to the over-all performance. Just a final note on accompaniment tracks. I directed a “B” level 40-voice SAI chorus for 8 years,... and we used 4 or 5 instrumental accompaniment tracks with excellent audience approval. It added a whole different dimension to our musical performances... and my ladies had great fun with them!
(updated 2021 for current technology)