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How to Amplify a Dance Floor

Posted by Ted Blue on 6/23/2015 to FAQ
We recently received a call about amplifying a dance floor for a tap-dancing performance. The dance floor was a full-floating hardwood floor (with a pad underneath), and the idea was to attach pickup sensors to the floor at various points and then run them all into a PA system for amplification.

After reviewing the specs, we recommended the Barcus-Berry 1457 pickup. This pickup sensor was selected because it is highly durable, very sensitive and does not require a preamp. Each pickup sensor is about two inches long by about 1/4" wide, and attaches easily to the underside of the dance floor with the included double-sided foam adhesive tape. The sensor lead wire connects directly to a nylon-cased metal 1/4" jack, which also attaches with double-sided foam tape.

The dance floor measured 12 feet deep and about 18 feet wide. In this situation, the resonance from the dancer's tap shoes can be felt from about 3-4 feet away, so two rows of three pickups spaced 4-5 feet apart would do the job nicely. The output from each sensor is run to a mini mixer for blending, and then the single mono output is plugged directly into the PA system. In this case, there was no need for a preamp as the combined sensor output was more than enough to drive the PA system directly, and the mini-mixer provided blending and master volume functionality.

The results from this installation were pretty spectacular. The sound of the tap dancing was clear and distinct and reduced the normal "thud" from many dancers on the floor at the same time. For single dancers, the sensors allowed well-defined tap and slide sound reproduction evenly across the entire floor. Although there was slightly reduced output at the corners and edges of the floor, this did not appear to cause problems as the dancers were rarely in those locations.

If you have an unusual sound amplification situation that you were able to resolve using pickups, please let me know.