Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 6 Live-Music Sound Systems

Categories: Best of Houston

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House of Blues
It's often difficult enough to hear a great band or solo artist over the yammering of those in attendance, but it is made worse when the sound system sounds like garbage. We music lovers have often lamented the lack of decorum shown by some local music "fans" when it comes to talking during shows, but it's normally the musicians who are left to bitch about bad sound.

Fortunately, Houston does have a few very good rooms for listening and sound systems that can be loud enough and clean enough to drown out the clinking glasses and flapping gums of the noisy few among us. It's also nice that it makes the band sound killer in the process.

House of Blues took the No. 1 spot for Best Sound System in 2009. Here are the best of the rest.


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Photo by Brittanie Shey
5. McGonigel's Mucky Duck: If there was a best listening room in Houston, Mucky Duck would have to be on the list. It's one of the rare places where people truly go to just listen. In fact, you might just get shushed if you aren't careful.

They have a small sound system that won't blow the doors off the place, but it's clean and ideal for the singer/songwriters that occupy the stage there every night, including what is purported to be the longest running open-mike night in the city.


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Photo by Marco Torres
4. Warehouse Live: For larger rooms, Warehouse is one of the better venues. The setup in both the large and small rooms is ideal for standing and watching, and while hard concrete walls and floors are not ideal for optimum sound, they wisely offset the stage in the small room to prevent sound reflection and the whole place just feels like a big music venue.

With all the hip-hop acts that come through there with regularity, it's no wonder the low end is earthshaking in there. Stand too close to the speakers at any show and you will hear what I mean. That thunderous low end is one of the main reasons Warehouse makes this list.


Location Info

House of Blues

1204 Caroline, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Warehouse Live

813 St. Emanuel, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Continental Club

3700 Main, Houston, TX

Category: Music

McGonigel's Mucky Duck

2425 Norfolk, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Rudyard's

2010 Waugh, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Fitzgerald's

2706 White Oak, Houston, TX

Category: Music


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13 comments
TheAbyss
TheAbyss

All of those are worthy of praise.  Glad to see the voters got it right.  The Abyss had a great time playing at Dirt Bar during the awards as well...  www.theabyssband.com.

 

Uncle_Bernie
Uncle_Bernie

Ahhh Rudz...and, if you notice, every set there's a can or two that just isn't at quite the right angle and Joe gets out his trusty broomstick(?) and adjust the light "just-so" ;)  The place wouldn't be the same without him.

wms
wms

And Anderson Fair

wms
wms

Miller Outdoor Theatre

Steve Gilbert
Steve Gilbert

I would add a newer club to the list...the Capitol at St. Germain in downtown Houston.  They have a pretty impressive sound system, both onstage and in the audience.

Breeze
Breeze

I have to agree with oldfart...Warehouse Live should not be on the list. Maybe for the rap and metal shows that seem to dominate their schedule these days it might work, but many shows I have been to there  the sound was way out of wack. During one show, I moved like 6 times thinking maybe I would find the spot where I could hear the singers voice clearly....never found that spot.

oldfart
oldfart

Warehouse Live? Sorry, but you must be attending different events than those I have attended there. The larger stage sometimes has decent (but certainly not "great" or even "good") sound for the headliners, but there seems to be a policy against adjusting anything to help the opening acts. The small stage is a complete joke, with the location of the speakers seemingly intended to create the smallest possible sweet spot. 

Jeff
Jeff

It's tough to judge Anderson because they basically have a tiny system built for acoustic acts. It always sounds good in there, but it would even if the didn't use a mic.

Jeff
Jeff

I've heard good things about this place.

Youngfart
Youngfart

I've heard decent/acceptable sound in the large room, nothing above average though. At the HPMA ceremony you couldn't hear the presenter mics too well and that was just one mic with no instruments. I've never heard a good sounding show in the small room -- not any of the two dozen or so shows I've seen there. And, from a performers perspective, both rooms have hideous onstage sound. In the small room most of the monitors are not working, or the sound guy doesn't know how to turn them on, I don't know which is worse. In the big room the onstage sounds like you're sticking your head in a washing machine.

Jeff
Jeff

It's tougher in the small room, but I've never been in the big room when it sounded bad. Maybe that's just my experience.

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