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  • Best PA System for Big Band?

    Somehow I've found myself "assigned" the task of researching and
    recommending a new PA system for my wife's all women big band (the
    logic is I use an amplifier, so I know something?!) I've started
    reading on-line stuff and catalogs, but I specific suggestions and straight advice.

    There are usually 17 instrumetalists and one vocalist. Sometimes the
    venue does not have a sound system, in which case they use their own
    4 channel Fender Passport (?) (not sure about the wattage); but in outdoor
    venues (and they play a lot of those), the sound evaporates within
    fifty feet of the stage--the unamplified stuff is louder and clearer.
    They run two mics to the saxes and two to the brass. The vocalist
    uses one of the sax mics, and the trumpets and trombones shuffle
    theirs. The bass, guitar, and piano depend on their own amps.

    Because I have the catalog, I've been looking at Carvin's XP Systems
    3 and 4. I think 8 channels would be enough, but I like the idea of
    more wattage if I could get it. The Yamaha reviews I've looked at
    have all been by rockers, who complain Y's systems aren't loud
    enough. Later today I'll be looking at some other brands on-line.

    Another issue is transport. The group leader can tote the Fender in
    the back seat of her car and carry it to the stage, so the
    replacement ideally wouldn't be much more of a hassle.

    Also, the group does not have a sound person. After the PA is set up,
    they do a quick sound check and that's it until the gig is over. So
    the replacement pretty much would have to let them set up and let it
    go.

    Given all this, what are some concerns I should address? Any specific
    products? And need I add that money is an issue--I'm thinking that if
    the band pays for it (the leader owns the current gear), they won't
    want to go over $1000.

    Thanks in advance,

    John

  • #2
    Does the band sound good with no amplification?

    Comment


    • #3
      What kind of/size venues are they playing?

      Comment


      • #4
        They sound great (although some incarnations are strongerthan others--there's probably a core group of 7 or 10 who are pros and semipros that can carry the rest; but all the women are strong players.

        The application I describe is the area where they need help. There's a big difference between their sound indoors vs. outdoors. One of the younger players posted a clip on Youtube (Chicago Outskirts), but it was recorded with a cell phone (and my wife was in Europe, so she missed the gig).

        Comment


        • #5
          If they don't play outdoors all that often, and the passport system works OK indoors, they may want to hire out the sound for the outdoor shows. I'm just saying $1000 doesn't get you a lot.

          Comment


          • #6
            Depends; they had 500+ at an outside gig last week; inside gigs vary a lot. They'll be playing in a restaurant as the "opening act" for another big band in a week or two and will probably have 200 in the audience.

            The issue I felt is playing outside. There were walls around and behind them last, but the sound didn't echo. So I'm thinking ouside open areas.

            Comment


            • #7
              Honestly I'd try to find a local PA provider that you can partner with. The hassle of owning a PA system and setting it up every time is a huge pain. Not to mention having someone out there to adjust levels is very helpful. The investment in gear that it will take to play to 500 people is not worth it to use once a month.

              Good luck and have fun!

              Comment


              • #8
                Where about in DuPage? I live in Elmhurst. Do they do big band stuff? I love that music. I played trombone with the Elmhurst College Jazz Band back in the 80's. My system is available if we aren't using it. I have PRX512s over MRX518s.

                You probably want to mic drums and bass (very important with jazz) so I would suggest at least 16 channels. I also suggest subs because there is a lot of the higher freqs in that music so the low end needs to balance the sound.

                I suggest powered speakers and a passive board.
                <div class="signaturecontainer"><b><font size="2">&quot;The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.&quot;</font></b> - <i>Hunter S. Thompson</i><br />
                <br />
                Band promo shots on railroad tracks were cool in 1981...<img src="http://img3.harmony-central.com/acapella/ubb/facepalm.gif" border="0" alt="" title="facepalm" class="inlineimg" /></div>

                Comment


                • #9
                  Somehow I've found myself "assigned" the task of researching and
                  recommending a new PA system for my wife's all women big band (the
                  logic is I use an amplifier, so I know something?!) I've started
                  reading on-line stuff and catalogs, but I specific suggestions and straight advice.

                  There are usually 17 instrumetalists and one vocalist. Sometimes the
                  venue does not have a sound system, in which case they use their own
                  4 channel Fender Passport (?) (not sure about the wattage); but in outdoor
                  venues (and they play a lot of those), the sound evaporates within
                  fifty feet of the stage--the unamplified stuff is louder and clearer.
                  They run two mics to the saxes and two to the brass. The vocalist
                  uses one of the sax mics, and the trumpets and trombones shuffle
                  theirs. The bass, guitar, and piano depend on their own amps.

                  Because I have the catalog, I've been looking at Carvin's XP Systems
                  3 and 4. I think 8 channels would be enough, but I like the idea of
                  more wattage if I could get it. The Yamaha reviews I've looked at
                  have all been by rockers, who complain Y's systems aren't loud
                  enough. Later today I'll be looking at some other brands on-line.

                  Another issue is transport. The group leader can tote the Fender in
                  the back seat of her car and carry it to the stage, so the
                  replacement ideally wouldn't be much more of a hassle.

                  Also, the group does not have a sound person. After the PA is set up,
                  they do a quick sound check and that's it until the gig is over. So
                  the replacement pretty much would have to let them set up and let it
                  go.

                  Given all this, what are some concerns I should address? Any specific
                  products? And need I add that money is an issue--I'm thinking that if
                  the band pays for it (the leader owns the current gear), they won't
                  want to go over $1000.

                  Thanks in advance,

                  John
                  Here's my small outdoor setup. Of course, it is a little over $1K.
                  <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="mailto:tlbonehead@yahoo.com">tlbonehead@yaho o.com</a><br />
                  <a href="http://www.myspace.com/tbone_tommy" target="_blank">www.myspace.com/tbone_tommy</a><br />
                  -For Sale: <br />
                  -set of GFS Dream 90s- gold and black pearl- $40 shipped in the cont. US<br />
                  -(2) Celestion G12M-70 16 ohm guitar speakers in good condition $40 ea. + shipping.<br />
                  - Vox VT15 Valvetronix very clean - $85 + shipping<br />
                  - Hughes Kettner Edition Tube 20 (the early Voxy sounding one) Sounds &amp; looks good. $250 + shipping. <b>SOLD</b><br />
                  - Crate Palomino V8 - 10&quot; Celestion - Very clean - on Ebay (sold)</div>

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Here's my small outdoor setup. Of course, it is a little over $1K.


                    Just a little, I'll bet





                    Oh, and GO WHITE SOX
                    <div class="signaturecontainer"><b><font size="2">&quot;The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.&quot;</font></b> - <i>Hunter S. Thompson</i><br />
                    <br />
                    Band promo shots on railroad tracks were cool in 1981...<img src="http://img3.harmony-central.com/acapella/ubb/facepalm.gif" border="0" alt="" title="facepalm" class="inlineimg" /></div>

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have been in a similar situation. I play with a student orchestra with comp, brass, woodwind, song and dance. We can't hire, we have a very tight budget, we need gear that's lightweight, easy to set up, works well and can be controlled from stage by inexperienced people.

                      The problem is that it cannot be done.

                      What I did was to try and make the best of the situation. I bought a Mackie DFX 12 and two dB Technologie 210:s. With this we amplify song, piano, the occasional soloist and a tad of guitar and woodwind. Since we have no monitors we struggle a lot with placement of the speakers so that piano and song can hear themselves without destroying the ears of someone.

                      The idea is that we will expand the system over time. Soon we will buy a monitor and a small sub. Later on we may get better speakers and use the ones we got now as monitors, then a better mixer, another sub etc. etc.

                      Our audience is not of the same size but still we have to push our system really hard. If you really need to buy a system for $1000 I would suggest that you buy a decent mixer like a Yamaha MG or a Peavey PV (size according to needs) and the best active speaker you can afford. After a while you may be able to buy another speaker. If you don't want to struggle with speaker placement you need a monitor for the singer but you can buy a small cheap one for now and get a better one later on.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Just a little, I'll bet





                        Oh, and GO WHITE SOX

                        Well, if we keep self-destructing against crap teams like the Mariners, you'll have no problem! Did you win tonight?
                        <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="mailto:tlbonehead@yahoo.com">tlbonehead@yaho o.com</a><br />
                        <a href="http://www.myspace.com/tbone_tommy" target="_blank">www.myspace.com/tbone_tommy</a><br />
                        -For Sale: <br />
                        -set of GFS Dream 90s- gold and black pearl- $40 shipped in the cont. US<br />
                        -(2) Celestion G12M-70 16 ohm guitar speakers in good condition $40 ea. + shipping.<br />
                        - Vox VT15 Valvetronix very clean - $85 + shipping<br />
                        - Hughes Kettner Edition Tube 20 (the early Voxy sounding one) Sounds &amp; looks good. $250 + shipping. <b>SOLD</b><br />
                        - Crate Palomino V8 - 10&quot; Celestion - Very clean - on Ebay (sold)</div>

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Nope. We can win some series but we can't sweep (unless it's the Cubs). You guys are tough at home and your schedule looks pretty good. Back to music, I ended up catching a game at the Hump when I drove to MN to pick up an Akai MG1412 I won on eBay. What ever happened to the flashing milk carton?
                          <div class="signaturecontainer"><b><font size="2">&quot;The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.&quot;</font></b> - <i>Hunter S. Thompson</i><br />
                          <br />
                          Band promo shots on railroad tracks were cool in 1981...<img src="http://img3.harmony-central.com/acapella/ubb/facepalm.gif" border="0" alt="" title="facepalm" class="inlineimg" /></div>

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'd suggest:

                            Peavey PV 14 mixer

                            And two of these:

                            Thump 15A demos $300

                            The PV 14 and pair of Thumps are a large upgrade over the Fender Passport system. Sell the Passport and use the money to buy a lot more mics, cables, and stands.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I like the powered stereo mixer that can handle 4 ohm loads on each channel. Then get two speakers suitable for indoor work. When moved outdoors, either rent or buy later an additional two speakers. Outdoors will still seem different, but the extra db should work OK.

                              Outdoors, four speakers evenly spaced out across a straight line will provide deep coverage in a single straight line. (I place them about 30' from each other.) It's an interesting effect that works well for covering a rectangular space in the long direction without blasting in any location. (The Bose towers work the same way. Hearing few speakers close and hearing all the speakers at a distance.)

                              Comment

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