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  • Which PA system should I buy?

    Hey everyone.

    I'm not sure if this is the part of the forum that I should be posting this (I just now signed up to this site), but I figured someone would be able to help.
    I play in a heavy metal band with my friends and we're planning to have basement performances for friends. One guitarist, one drummer, and one bassist/vocalist.
    My basement is relatively small, so we're not going to mic up the drums at all. We're going to buy a PA system for the guitar, bass, and vocals. I need to know what wattage/size PA system I should get in order for the vocals, bass, and guitar to be heard well over the drums.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    are you playing the guitar and bass straight into the PA?
    "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
    "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by daddymack View Post
      are you playing the guitar and bass straight into the PA?
      We'll have pedals and whatnot but yes, my plan is to plug everything directly into the mixer.

      Comment


      • #4
        What is your budget?
        I suggest that you think beyond the immediate use, and get more PA than you need as far as power goes. You may only need a small passive PA Board like an Allen&Heath, Yamaha or Mackie, 4-8 channels should be enough, depending on whether you have backing vocals. But speakers...since you want to run the bass into the PA, powered speakers with a 15" would be needed, and you should think a minimum of 600 watts per speaker. I would bet if you look on Reverb.com you can find all the needed components to get started for under $800.
        for instance...
        https://reverb.com/item/5282188-mack...ir-of-speakers
        https://reverb.com/item/4752414-on-s...d-bag-for-them
        https://reverb.com/item/4177253-elec...-channel-mixer
        You will ultimately want floor monitors and a subwoofer too, but I will leave that to your imagination...

        Do not fall for one of the Behringer or Fender 'portable' PA units, as it will not keep up with a drummer or handle the bass.
        Last edited by daddymack; 06-14-2017, 05:25 PM.
        "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

        Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
        "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

        Comment


        • #5
          You said you play in a heavy metal band. Does that mean you already have guitar and bass amps but just don't want to use them, or do you mean you will be playing in a Heavy Metal band and don't want to use amps, just PA. Regarding using PA for guitar, I've been told that Brian (too loud) Macleod of The Headpins (a local band) use to mic up his amps through a huge PA and then record everything and mix to taste. Don't know if he did that much or just once, but I can't imagine Metal without amps - call me old fashioned.

          If you do want to go without amps, what daddymack suggested seems about right for your needs, but new gear with a warranty might be safer if you don't know much about PA's.

          BTW Brian was an accomplished vocalist, piano player and drummer, and a really nice guy to boot - he left us much too soon. If you've never heard him, here's a few live links.

          Here's an intro to People https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVAVLrDhOHY

          And the rest of the song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMFBuTd7EyI

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by mattc666 View Post
            I play in a heavy metal band with my friends and we're planning to have basement performances for friends. One guitarist, one drummer, and one bassist/vocalist.
            My basement is relatively small, so we're not going to mic up the drums at all. We're going to buy a PA system for the guitar, bass, and vocals. I need to know what wattage/size PA system I should get in order for the vocals, bass, and guitar to be heard well over the drums.

            Our music room might be similar to yours... or maybe slightly larger.

            We use a 12-channel passive mixer, into a single powered 12" subwoofer and two powered 8" two-way speakers. WAY WAY more than enough to overpower the room!

            Speakers are mounted on poles across the room (one using the subwoofer as base), facing back toward musicians, partly to eliminate feedback through the mics, and partly so they act as both mains and monitor. Another sub wouldn't hurt, but it also would't add much for what we play (all over the map). For metal, you might want another sub... but you could try with one first, see what you think before deciding.

            The mixer in our normal configuration accepts 5 mics, one or two guitars, one bass, one keyboard (sometimes stereo, using two jacks) and my e-drum portable kit (ditto sometimes stereo).

            I don't mic my acoustic drums.. My original cymbals are the most difficult to tame, in the small room. More often, I've been using Zildjian's L80s, recently with either the acoustic kit or the e-drums. If you do heavy metal, though, you may not even be able to hear cymbals anymore..

            Happens our PA stuff is Mackie mixer, EV sub/speakers, mostly Sennheiser mics but with some others depending on who brings what -- but you can shop for comparable and however many inputs you decide you need, and let your budget be your guide.

            One reason we started running everything through the PA was about feedback control. Another is about balancing the mix; guitars/bass/keys folks don't have to continually yutz around with individual amps, and also nobody gets much of a chance to hawg the musical space with over-the-top volume.

            -D44
            Last edited by Drummer44; 06-15-2017, 09:17 AM.
            ************************************************** *********************************

            Old guy, just trying to play through the arthritis...
            - Balance is a virtue; loud for its own sake is not... and loud won't fix bad
            - I may not interpret ridiculous, crazy, or stupid the way you intended
            - Common retail products are never awesome (thermo-nuclear probably is, though)
            Assume the requisite list of stuff...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by daddymack View Post
              What is your budget?
              I suggest that you think beyond the immediate use, and get more PA than you need as far as power goes. You may only need a small passive PA Board like an Allen&Heath, Yamaha or Mackie, 4-8 channels should be enough, depending on whether you have backing vocals. But speakers...since you want to run the bass into the PA, powered speakers with a 15" would be needed, and you should think a minimum of 600 watts per speaker. I would bet if you look on Reverb.com you can find all the needed components to get started for under $800.
              for instance...
              https://reverb.com/item/5282188-mack...ir-of-speakers
              https://reverb.com/item/4752414-on-s...d-bag-for-them
              https://reverb.com/item/4177253-elec...-channel-mixer
              You will ultimately want floor monitors and a subwoofer too, but I will leave that to your imagination...

              Do not fall for one of the Behringer or Fender 'portable' PA units, as it will not keep up with a drummer or handle the bass.
              My budget for the PA is admittedly scarce because I only get around $40 a week from my part-time job but I am saving most of it for the PA and not planning on spending it on anything else. That being said, it still will take a while to rake in enough. Thank you for the info and suggestions!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Shaster View Post
                You said you play in a heavy metal band. Does that mean you already have guitar and bass amps but just don't want to use them, or do you mean you will be playing in a Heavy Metal band and don't want to use amps, just PA. Regarding using PA for guitar, I've been told that Brian (too loud) Macleod of The Headpins (a local band) use to mic up his amps through a huge PA and then record everything and mix to taste. Don't know if he did that much or just once, but I can't imagine Metal without amps - call me old fashioned.

                If you do want to go without amps, what daddymack suggested seems about right for your needs, but new gear with a warranty might be safer if you don't know much about PA's.

                BTW Brian was an accomplished vocalist, piano player and drummer, and a really nice guy to boot - he left us much too soon. If you've never heard him, here's a few live links.

                Here's an intro to People https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVAVLrDhOHY

                And the rest of the song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMFBuTd7EyI
                What a talented guy!
                If we were able to just use the amps we already have, without any PA, we would, but they're just not loud enough. That being said, we still would be able to run our amps through the PA without any problem (I'd imagine it would obviously sound a lot better than just going straight into the PA).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Drummer44 View Post


                  Our music room might be similar to yours... or maybe slightly larger.

                  We use a 12-channel passive mixer, into a single powered 12" subwoofer and two powered 8" two-way speakers. WAY WAY more than enough to overpower the room!

                  Speakers are mounted on poles across the room (one using the subwoofer as base), facing back toward musicians, partly to eliminate feedback through the mics, and partly so they act as both mains and monitor. Another sub wouldn't hurt, but it also would't add much for what we play (all over the map). For metal, you might want another sub... but you could try with one first, see what you think before deciding.

                  The mixer in our normal configuration accepts 5 mics, one or two guitars, one bass, one keyboard (sometimes stereo, using two jacks) and my e-drum portable kit (ditto sometimes stereo).

                  I don't mic my acoustic drums.. My original cymbals are the most difficult to tame, in the small room. More often, I've been using Zildjian's L80s, recently with either the acoustic kit or the e-drums. If you do heavy metal, though, you may not even be able to hear cymbals anymore..

                  Happens our PA stuff is Mackie mixer, EV sub/speakers, mostly Sennheiser mics but with some others depending on who brings what -- but you can shop for comparable and however many inputs you decide you need, and let your budget be your guide.

                  One reason we started running everything through the PA was about feedback control. Another is about balancing the mix; guitars/bass/keys folks don't have to continually yutz around with individual amps, and also nobody gets much of a chance to hawg the musical space with over-the-top volume.

                  -D44
                  Unfortunately, the room we'd be using is the main part of my basement so I wouldn't be able to have a permanent speaker setup around the room (I am 15 and live with my mom and dad). The room is pretty small so I don't really think that would be a problem anyways. My bandmates and I were discussing getting two large speaker cabs (probably something like those all-purpose Peavey ones) and using a mixer with them as there really isn't much ground to cover.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Okay, now we're getting closer.

                    I think you guys need to beg, borrow or bargain for a pair of used passive speakers and a powered mixer. People are so enamored of active speakers these days that passive ones are going for really cheap - especially big bulky ones. Old Peaveys, Yorkvilles, Yamahas, EV's.... can be had for cheap these days. And also, see if anyone wants to bargain or park some speakers. I've got an extra Yorkville Unity U15 that I would probably lend or sell for peanuts, to a group of guys just starting out; just to get it out of my house! There might be musicians in your area that want to dump old musty dusty, but perfectly functional rigs. When you're talking passive speakers, and when you're talking your budget, then used is the only way. What you could afford in the active speaker category that's new, just wouldn't cut it, so forget my previous assessment in my last post.

                    You'll still need a powered mixer, but there are used ones out there. Again for instance, I've got a powered Yorkville mixer that I bought twenty years ago used for $275.00 and it still works. If I was going to sell it, I might be able to get $50 or $75 for it (if I was lucky).

                    Buy local if you can, so that you can try it out first, and keep your eyes out for older musicians with wives that are getting tired of the PA clutter. Good deals can be had if you look for them.

                    OT, yes Brian was a talented guy and very down too earth. He might have earned the name "Too Loud" but he wasn't too proud. Sometimes (way way back) he would come and sit in with my top forty band, and play my really average guitar, through my really average amp - and make them sound great. As they say, it's all in the fingers.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mattc666 View Post
                      Unfortunately, the room we'd be using is the main part of my basement so I wouldn't be able to have a permanent speaker setup around the room (I am 15 and live with my mom and dad). The room is pretty small so I don't really think that would be a problem anyways. My bandmates and I were discussing getting two large speaker cabs (probably something like those all-purpose Peavey ones) and using a mixer with them as there really isn't much ground to cover.

                      Fair enough, small is sometimes more difficult... and FWIW, we went with unpowered mixer/active speakers mostly because it was just easier for us, and it led to an easy way to expand our music room system with spare/stored components if we have to haul it all somewhere and play out. And I really only meant to give an example of one way to do it, but there are several ways to skin the cat.

                      No matter what, feedback in a small area may be a problem, so you'll have to experiment with speaker placement relative to mics.

                      FWIW, and respectfully, balanced is better than loud. (And large isn't necessary for loud, especially in a small area.) If you need more loud because your drummer makes lots of noise, there are some non-electronic solutions to that... or e-drums can help.

                      -D44
                      Last edited by Drummer44; 06-16-2017, 10:50 AM.
                      ************************************************** *********************************

                      Old guy, just trying to play through the arthritis...
                      - Balance is a virtue; loud for its own sake is not... and loud won't fix bad
                      - I may not interpret ridiculous, crazy, or stupid the way you intended
                      - Common retail products are never awesome (thermo-nuclear probably is, though)
                      Assume the requisite list of stuff...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Shaster View Post
                        Okay, now we're getting closer.

                        I think you guys need to beg, borrow or bargain for a pair of used passive speakers and a powered mixer. People are so enamored of active speakers these days that passive ones are going for really cheap - especially big bulky ones. Old Peaveys, Yorkvilles, Yamahas, EV's.... can be had for cheap these days. And also, see if anyone wants to bargain or park some speakers. I've got an extra Yorkville Unity U15 that I would probably lend or sell for peanuts, to a group of guys just starting out; just to get it out of my house! There might be musicians in your area that want to dump old musty dusty, but perfectly functional rigs. When you're talking passive speakers, and when you're talking your budget, then used is the only way. What you could afford in the active speaker category that's new, just wouldn't cut it, so forget my previous assessment in my last post.

                        You'll still need a powered mixer, but there are used ones out there. Again for instance, I've got a powered Yorkville mixer that I bought twenty years ago used for $275.00 and it still works. If I was going to sell it, I might be able to get $50 or $75 for it (if I was lucky).

                        Buy local if you can, so that you can try it out first, and keep your eyes out for older musicians with wives that are getting tired of the PA clutter. Good deals can be had if you look for them.

                        OT, yes Brian was a talented guy and very down too earth. He might have earned the name "Too Loud" but he wasn't too proud. Sometimes (way way back) he would come and sit in with my top forty band, and play my really average guitar, through my really average amp - and make them sound great. As they say, it's all in the fingers.
                        I've mostly been looking on eBay and sites like that, but I'll look at Craigslist to see if there's any local listings I can find. Thanks

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Drummer44 View Post


                          Fair enough, small is sometimes more difficult... and FWIW, we went with unpowered mixer/active speakers mostly because it was just easier for us, and it led to an easy way to expand our music room system with spare/stored components if we have to haul it all somewhere and play out. And I really only meant to give an example of one way to do it, but there are several ways to skin the cat.

                          No matter what, feedback in a small area may be a problem, so you'll have to experiment with speaker placement relative to mics.

                          FWIW, and respectfully, balanced is better than loud. (And large isn't necessary for loud, especially in a small area.) If you need more loud because your drummer makes lots of noise, there are some non-electronic solutions to that... or e-drums can help.

                          -D44
                          Thanks for the advice. I did put gaffer tape on my tom heads and a pillow inside the kick drum to dampen the volume and reverb. I'll keep looking.

                          Comment













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