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  • PA System

    I might be jumping the gun a bit here (only had one rehearsal), but I'll ask anyway

    The guitarist in my band has his guitars and amps, ditto the bassist, and the drummer has his drums. Therefore, being the singist, I feel obliged to buy a PA

    Do you have any tips as to what I should get? Probably, some venues will have their own PAs, but in case they don't, I'll have to get one

    Please don't advise me to go to another forum to ask this. I'm asking you guys because I kind of know and trust you

    I can rustle up about

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  • #2

    Well, I always wanted to write a book that told you what you need to know about that. Want to wait a few more years?    At the moment I'm plodding through a book for a review so I can tell you NOT to bother to read: "Basic Live Sound Reinforcement - a practical guide for starting live audio" by Raven Biederman and Penny Pattison. It goes into excruciating detail in the beginning about things you don't need to know about for a while and still manages to be kind of goofy technically. It'll just confuse you.

    You probably already know what a PA system is supposed to look like. A pair of speakers on sticks, probably powred for simplicity in specifying what to buy and in hooking it up, a mixer, and some microphones. Always get a mixer with more channels than you think you'll need. Will there be keyboards? That'll take a channel or two. More vocalists? Be sure to have enough channels, mics, and stands. And cables, and more cables.

    Your friendly local dealer will be able to give you better advice than I can from across the ocean on what will fit your budget. I think you're going on the assumption that you'll be playing in venues small enough so that the only thing that will need to go through the PA system will be vocals and electronic keyboards, maybe an acouustic guitar. On your budget that's probably going to have to be the way it is. Put the drums in the mix "for clarity" or "detail" and you'll need to put the guitar and bass through the system as well and that means more mics, more mixer channels, and larger and higher powered speakers.

    I wouldn't get a mixer with any fewer than four mic inputs if for no other reason than that you might play some gigs where you don't have this band and maybe have an acoustic guitar or keyboard or both. Watch how they count channels. The Mackie 1202 has four mic inputs and four stereo line inputs (4 + 4x2 = 12). Yamahas cost about the same world wide, Mackie is likely to be more expensive there, Behringer is Behringer, Allen & Heath is local but they don't make much inexpensive stuff (but it's good).

    Look around and see what you can buy, then ask questions about specific pieces that your dealer suggests.

    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then


    • RoadRanger
      RoadRanger commented
      Editing a comment

      The bass player is supposed to supply the PA  .

  • #3

    My best suggestion is to go out and see what other bands that play about the way you'd like to have and what their budgets are.

    To my way of thinking it takes about $10K to have a reasonably good system that can handle "classic rock" levels for about 200 people in a club.

    Also there is a good thread here ...  http://www.harmonycentral.com/t5/Live-Sound-Production/What-I-Run-Why-I-Run-It-and-What-I-Think-of-It/m-p/5400371#U5400371  that can give you an idea of what others are doing

    Don Boomer


    • RoadRanger
      RoadRanger commented
      Editing a comment

      It's often cheaper to hire a sound provider in the long run - and certainly in the short run. You need someone to run it anyways unless you want to sound like crap.

  • #4

    IMHO, absolute minimum is going to be 10/12 XLR channels, particularly if there are backing vocals going on. While it may seem to be too much it won't take long before you'll be putting the whole band through the PA for anything other than really small venues.

    Check used equipment. Like here you'll get more inputs and more power for the money buying used over new.

    Yamaha has a bundle, MG166CX / MSR400 Pro Audio Bundle that should be in your price range, even over there but is at the bottom of the input and power range.

    Another unit you might have a look at is the StudioMaster PH-1000X-18 - LD Systems Revolver LD Systems Revolver LDPR15 package from someone like The Audio Works UK. It's within your range and the price includes VAT through them. A bit more power and more channels.

    Other gear to look at that you may find in your price range; Allen & Heath, Electro Voice, EAW, Proel & maybe Wharfdale if the quality is up to par. I don't know what else would be readily available on your side of the pond other than Dynacord and their gear is probably out of your range unless you can find a real steal on used gear.

    Still Kickin' cancer's ass....Blue Water Sailors of the Vietnam WarHCGB Trooper #246Psalm 19 SocietyI can't really imagine experiencing the desire for multiple women; one has proven to be taxing enough as it is.Thanks Offy


    • Mark L
      Mark L commented
      Editing a comment

      Mmm, it sounds as though I'm going to need considerably more than a grand if I want a decent, powerful set-up. Especially if the band needs to go through the PA as well

      Well I don't have that kind of money, so it looks as though I'll have to hire a PA and sound-guy for those venues that don't provide an in-house system

      I post on a local musicians' forum and I seem to recall a couple of guys on there who provide such a service. When the time comes for us to do gigs, I'll have a word

      This live music lark is bloody expensive, isn't it?! :smileyeek:

  • #5

    When I was out on my spending spree last year, I bought a pair of powered PA speakers. I can attach those to my little 8 channel mixer and I've got myself a minimal PA, in case I need it. The drummer in my band owns a pair of powered PA speakers too. The bass player also has a bit of gear. Between us we can put together a pretty good small PA system with foldback and everything. I considered buying a sub but decided against it, because any gig large enough to need the subs is going to need a proper sound-man as well.

    But I think the powered speakers are the way to go. They come in handy for a lot of things besides PA.



    • JeffLearman
      JeffLearman commented
      Editing a comment

      My suggestion is to start putting together a small PA, for use at practice and when you want to play small private parties (especially unpaid ones for band members or friends -- if you'll be going there).

      I agree with a $10K budget for a serious PA where you need to mic the instruments, and I also agree that you're better off getting a pro sound company to provide it, set it up, and run it. But even for a smallish PA for electric music (as opposed to a jazz trio or acoustic act) you're looking at more like $2K minimum (assuming you already have mics), probably more.

      Remember we're talking about a lot of gear here: mics & stands, cables, mixer, main speakers & stands, subwoofers, vocal monitors.

      You may already have a number of components, such as mic stands, mics, and mixer. (For getting started, you can often use a recording mixer as a stage mixer; you can even use a recording machine as one -- and then record the gig!)

      More importantly, it's hard to be the sound guy and the performer, at the same time. Both for energy/focus/artistic reasons, and practical ones (you can't hear what the band sounds like from stage).

      I also agree with Kotch that these days, powered speakers are the best approach, since theyr're so versatile, usable as mains, vocal monitors, keyboard monitors, DJ speakers, or just as a stereo for a home party.

  • #6
    Take that mic away from the 'bone!!! Rent their PA and operator
    Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
    Dad is great and all but he never could sing -


    • #7
      You could get a usable PA by picking up 2 JBL Eons (powered 400W 2-way pole mount speakers), a 16 channel board with at least 4 aux sends (for monitor mixes), and a few Kustom 12" powered floor wedges. If you buy used stuff, you should be able to get a usable setup for less than $2500 US (unless prices are higher in Europe; can't tell from here....) Good luck!


      • Mark L
        Mark L commented
        Editing a comment

        philbo wrote:
        You could get a usable PA by picking up 2 JBL Eons (powered 400W 2-way pole mount speakers), a 16 channel board with at least 4 aux sends (for monitor mixes), and a few Kustom 12" powered floor wedges. If you buy used stuff, you should be able to get a usable setup for less than $2500 US (unless prices are higher in Europe; can't tell from here....) Good luck!

        Thanks! But I'm really thinking I'll rent as and when I need to. The bucks are too big for me to buy

        I see the band on Tuesday (2nd rehearsal), so I'll pick their collective brains. The drummer has been at it for donkey's years, and the guitarist and bassist are old hands, too. If they don't know their stuff, I'm ****