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i'm an ignorant idiot ...


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here's the story. starting a band again, however this time we have no one in the group with a semblance of a PA system. so ... i am gathering knowledge - and i have a couple of paths to consider.

 

1. just enough PA to get some vocals above the instruments with no instument amplification through the PA. thinking this would be a very cheap stopgap until the group progresses to cohesion.

 

2. get something with the capability to grow ... should we need/want to mic other instruments and project up to a maybe 300 person room.

 

band is 2 guitars, 1 bass, 1 decent set of drums, 1 electric piano. 3 vocals - sometimes all singing.

 

genre is softer classic rock to jazzy rock to bluesy jazz. no metal, no country ... fwiw.

 

problems: (a) money ... of course. not really interested in getting in very deep until we gel and get out. but i understand that 'decent stuff' isn't cheap. (b) instrument amp problems - keyboard is current running into a micro cube and can't get any decent volume period. bass is playing into a frontman 25r guitar amp and ... it won;t last 2 more practices.

 

what i would like - some 'education' about what can be done. also, suggested decent gear selection and why you would suggest it. i have no preconceived notions about what to do.

 

the other guitar player sent me a link to a 'all-in-one' vocal pa with 2 speakers on a stick, 4 mics, 4 cables, and a powered mixer. not against this, but seems like a practice only solution.

 

of course, the guitar players have 50-75 watt amps and the drummer 'can hit hard' if that's needed to increase the volume so we have all sorts of potential options ...

 

thanks. :rolleyes:

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I'm sorry but I just HAVE to say this "It depends".

 

1) What is your real budget?

 

2) would YOU own the PA or would it be a group purchase (usualy a very bad idea). You could make each member responsible for purchasing a certain piece that (wherever it is stored) belongs to them. If they leave the band, so does their piece of gear.

 

3) The group hasn't progressed to cohesion yet and you're already thinking about PA purchase? Is the cart before the horse?

 

Without these questions answered, it's hard to make any recommendations. It sounds like (only if YOU are willing to take the risk) YOU might want to buy a basic PA and have the other members upgrade their on stage amps (come on used gear is CHEAP these days!). You don't have to buy absolutly top shelf gear BUT buy reliable gear that works well enough and holds it's value. It is possible to find decent gear that can be integrated into a bigger system later if you decide to go that way. Mid level JBL or EV, Shure, Peavey are a few companies that come to mind (keep in mind that almost everyone makes a bottom line which rarely is a good VALUE - shop and shop hard)).

 

That's my .02

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the other guitar player sent me a link to a 'all-in-one' vocal pa with 2 speakers on a stick, 4 mics, 4 cables, and a powered mixer. not against this, but seems like a practice only solution.

 

 

Nah. IMO, that's not a bad approach when starting out.

 

Consider that if you used a couple of quality powered speakers on those sticks and use a small format mixer, as you grow, those can become your monitors and you can replace them with more powerful amplification.

 

Of course, if you buy cheap, crappy powered speakers that you'll need to upgrade...

 

I agree w/ JRBLE...

 

especially about point 3.

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A vocals-only PA is probably a very good idea for you guys, and it can even work out well for playing out, but there's a big 'if"; and that "if" is, how do you gel as a band? Are you all on the same page about playing "as a band", and not a bunch of competing individuals. Judging by the genre of music you play, I'm thinking you guys are reasonably "mature"??? Maybe you guys need to have a band meeting, and decide amongst yourselves "where are we going from here"? Keyboards into "cubes" and basses into guitar-amps might be fine for basement jams,,, but projecting a quality sound to an audience, is another matter all together. With a vocals-only PA, and a decent-quality backline, you can probably carry lots of smaller clubs/halls, as long as the crowd is not too noisy or rambunctious.

 

Vocals-only P/A's also have their problems too, especially if you over-reach it's capacity. Individual band members can "turn up" when they can't hear themselves properly, and it quickly degenerates into a garbled mess. With everything going to a single console, you have much more control over your sound.

 

Maybe the cheapest way to get started, is to have each band-member pay for the gear he requires to get into the console; for example, your drummer buys a kick and snare mic, and the cables/stands. Bass player buys a D.I. and cable, or a small bass-combo with D.I. out, and his cable to get into the console. Keyboard guy buys a D,I., or, a keyboard-amp with D.I. out, etc. Everybody provides their own vocal-mics/stands/cables.

 

Now, the debate begins as to who buys/owns the PA, and since the band benefits equally from the use of the PA, then what is their individual contribution per show? Good luck with that one.

 

You might start out by determining what the rental costs would be, if you hired a system. If one guy buys the PA, you can't charge a full rental fee, because at the end of the day, the buyer "owns" the PA. What you could do, is determine a fair depreciation-rate per year, then divide that by the number of gigs you do, and everybody pays equally.

 

Who's going to store/transport/ set-up/ tear-down the PA? With a rented system, the band has to pitch in. Establish that at the outset.

 

Another approach; one band members buys one FOH main, and another buys the second main. Another buys the subwoofer, and another buys the mixer. (roughly $1k. each) If you need monitors, everyone buys their own. That way, everybody gets involved in transport/storage/depreciation, etc. There's lots of ways of going about it, but it's essential to have a consensus about what level, or quality of gear you're willing to invest in. It's "your sound". How valuable is that to you? What doors can "good sound" open for you? Do you want to sound like "pro's", or like a band that just gets out of the basement from time to time.

 

Getting an equal level of commitment is often difficult. It need not be, as long as there is effective communication and honesty.

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It would be nice to see what he sent you a link to. A lot of those all in one things are garbage.

 

I'd start out with a mixer with enough channels to mic everything. Despite what some people may tell you, that's really not optional. Then get three decent powered speakers, two mains and a monitor. From there you can add subs and more monitors as you grow.

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Generally a 25 watt guitar amp is loud enough for what I call a medium sized room. (Might be a small room in Andy's world.) If your guitarists are into clean sound, they should be OK, but if they count on amp distortion, they probably have too much power. There are a lot of speakers on a sticks that work very well. There are also some that are crap. Better one good one than two crap ones. (And the price might be about the same.)

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thanks for the initial replies. i hope after i answer these questiojs which seem most important to me ... some of you can give me more direction.

 

1st, we need SOMETHING to get vocals heard about instruments for practice. if we were just a couple of acoustic guitars, i think i could ignore that. however, during our initial get-together, it was impossible to hear any vocal 'quality' over the instruments and we were playing pretty quietly. for some songs, the drummer played with brushes to keep it down. the bass was almost unheard - couldn;t tell what he was playing at times.

 

2nd, as far as cost, the initial item was around $500 for 4 mics, cords, 2 speakers on a stick, and a powered mixer. musicians friend thing. looked like crap to me, but hearing is the key thing. since i'm ignorant, this is my situation.

 

3rd, i know it's early in the process, but my situation in the group was to ignore talent and focus on personality and interests in the interview process. we are (in some order) 51 yo divorcee, 60 yo retired, 45 yo married no kids, 50-ish empty nester, 28 yo married no kids. most of us are comfortable in our economic situation, but right now none of us have a 'cash position' to spend much. when i get my property settlement complete based on the house sale ... i could go out and spend some cash.

 

4th, i REALLY have a problem with buying twice. i have read a few of the threads here and have an idea that mics for vocals are (best value) Shure's 57s or 58s (?) ... and mixers i figure i should get up to a 12 of 16 channel, or possibly a split mixer where i can control monitors and FOH on the same board but separately ... sepaprate power amp or built in ?? i can BUY ONCE CRY ONCE ... as long as i can afford it. just not really sure where to get to 1st. i have no problem buying speakers now that turn into monitors later. just would prefer to buy as little as possible that i will either take a severe beating on in the resale/Craigslist situation or just junk.

 

what are we playing ... geezer pop/rock/jazzy stuff with some originals. think about a Steely Dan/old smooth Doobie Brothers thing with some blues ... and maybe an upbeat number or two. no metal, no guitar god stuff.

 

anyway, thanks once again for all replies. if anyone has a 'specific' recommendation i'd love to hear it. thanks.

 

roger

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2. get something with the capability to grow ...

 

 

This is the hardest part. Adding additional speakers isn't a real efficient way to go ... two steps forward, one step back. A better plan would be to start with a speaker system that could be converted to a monitor and then replaced with a FOH speaker.

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Generally a 25 watt guitar amp is loud enough for what I call a medium sized room. (Might be a small room in Andy's world.) If your guitarists are into clean sound, they should be OK, but if they count on amp distortion, they probably have too much power. There are a lot of speakers on a sticks that work very well. There are also some that are crap. Better one good one than two crap ones. (And the price might be about the same.)

 

 

Go back and re-read the OPs post. The BASS player is using a 25 watt guitar amp.

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Sounds like a perfect situation for a used StudioLive or O1V96 and a pair of powered speakers in the PRX or equivalent range. Starts out with all of the mixer capability that you will ever need at a reasonable price (older O1V96's can be had on ebay for $4-500) and speakers that can start at FOH and move to monitor duty as the venue size increases. IEM's are also an excellent suggestion. Makes things much easier both live and in rehearsal.

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This is the hardest part. Adding additional speakers isn't a real efficient way to go ... two steps forward, one step back. A better plan would be to start with a speaker system that could be converted to a monitor and then replaced with a FOH speaker.

 

 

so ... what could i get away with for $800-$1000 as a starter ... used. i plan on scouring CL and i will place some links to various stuff i see for sale for your opinions if y'all care to respond. give me starting speaker sizes, basic amplification wattage, cabling, and mixer info as you want. i know i can google specific suggestions - but if you can include a link to what you are describing ... i would grant you several irish blessings.

 

roger

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so ... what could i get away with for $800-$1000 as a starter ... used. i plan on scouring CL and i will place some links to various stuff i see for sale for your opinions if y'all care to respond. give me starting speaker sizes, basic amplification wattage, cabling, and mixer info as you want. i know i can google specific suggestions - but if you can include a link to what you are describing ... i would grant you several irish blessings.


roger

 

 

If I had to spend less than $1000 on this, I'd be getting a single QSC k12 or PRX 612, plus a speaker stand, mic stand, and SM58, plus cables-- that would get you to the point where you can hear your vocals at practice.

 

If the bass player wants to play, I'd "encourage" him to pickup something that will at least be audible.

 

Then I'd pick up another speaker/stand next month alongside a small format mixer like the little yamaha mg102, and whoever else wants to sing can get their own mics/stands/cables-- that'd get you to the point of playing small gigs.

 

Then, if things are going well, I'd reassess what is working and how to apply that equipment to a larger system.

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thanks for the initial replies. i hope after i answer these questiojs which seem most important to me ... some of you can give me more direction.


1st, we need SOMETHING to get vocals heard about instruments for practice. if we were just a couple of acoustic guitars, i think i could ignore that. however, during our initial get-together, it was impossible to hear any vocal 'quality' over the instruments and we were playing pretty quietly. for some songs, the drummer played with brushes to keep it down. the bass was almost unheard - couldn;t tell what he was playing at times.


2nd, as far as cost, the initial item was around $500 for 4 mics, cords, 2 speakers on a stick, and a powered mixer. musicians friend thing. looked like crap to me, but hearing is the key thing. since i'm ignorant, this is my situation.


3rd, i know it's early in the process, but my situation in the group was to ignore talent and focus on personality and interests in the interview process. we are (in some order) 51 yo divorcee, 60 yo retired, 45 yo married no kids, 50-ish empty nester, 28 yo married no kids. most of us are comfortable in our economic situation, but right now none of us have a 'cash position' to spend much. when i get my property settlement complete based on the house sale ... i could go out and spend some cash.


4th, i REALLY have a problem with buying twice. i have read a few of the threads here and have an idea that mics for vocals are (best value) Shure's 57s or 58s (?) ... and mixers i figure i should get up to a 12 of 16 channel, or possibly a split mixer where i can control monitors and FOH on the same board but separately ... sepaprate power amp or built in ?? i can BUY ONCE CRY ONCE ... as long as i can afford it. just not really sure where to get to 1st. i have no problem buying speakers now that turn into monitors later. just would prefer to buy as little as possible that i will either take a severe beating on in the resale/Craigslist situation or just junk.


what are we playing ... geezer pop/rock/jazzy stuff with some originals. think about a Steely Dan/old smooth Doobie Brothers thing with some blues ... and maybe an upbeat number or two. no metal, no guitar god stuff.


anyway, thanks once again for all replies. if anyone has a 'specific' recommendation i'd love to hear it. thanks.


roger

 

 

I think you're headed for failure.

 

First, don't even consider a $500 PA. That's about the starting price for a single useable speaker. If money is really tight, the budget brands such as Behringer or Alto will get you by.

 

You can't ignore talent. Personality is important, but you won't get anywhere without talent. Personally, I'd go with talent first, only ruling somebody out if they were completely impossible to deal with.

 

You all need to get decent and appropriate equipment. Bass player needs a real amp. Guitar players need amps that sound good at appropriate volumes. I would certainly get a mixer with enough channels to mic everything and has at least two monitor sends. They can be had for not a whole lot more than a mixer you'd outgrow with your first gig.

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If I had to spend less than $1000 on this, I'd be getting a single QSC k12 or PRX 612, plus a speaker stand, mic stand, and SM58, plus cables-- that would get you to the point where you can hear your vocals at practice.


If the bass player wants to play, I'd "encourage" him to pickup something that will at least be audible.


Then I'd pick up another speaker/stand next month alongside a small format mixer like the little yamaha mg102, and whoever else wants to sing can get their own mics/stands/cables-- that'd get you to the point of playing small gigs.


Then, if things are going well, I'd reassess what is working and how to apply that equipment to a larger system.

 

 

^^ This...

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If I had to spend less than $1000 on this, I'd be getting a single QSC k12 or PRX 612, plus a speaker stand, mic stand, and SM58, plus cables-- that would get you to the point where you can hear your vocals at practice.


If the bass player wants to play, I'd "encourage" him to pickup something that will at least be audible.


Then I'd pick up another speaker/stand next month alongside a small format mixer like the little yamaha mg102, and whoever else wants to sing can get their own mics/stands/cables-- that'd get you to the point of playing small gigs.


Then, if things are going well, I'd reassess what is working and how to apply that equipment to a larger system.

 

 

That wouldn't work for 3 vocals. They'd still need a mixer. I'd go with budget speakers first, then get better speakers later and move the budget speakers to monitor duty.

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rvschulz,

 

$1k will get you next to nowhere, unless you improve your backline situation. Factor that cost into your PA, and up your budget to something realistic. If you buy a good set of 12" active mains, and at least one good sub, then you can avoid spending money on bass-amps, etc. Just run the bass thru a D.I. into the PA. Snare and kick, mic'ed to the PA, etc.

 

A Soundcraft EFX-8 mixer would be fine for your situation, and not expensive ($299. new, or less). You might do it for $2k if you're lucky, but that's really pushing it. $3k buys you breathing-room, and $4k buys you a heckuva nice PA, for 150-200 people.

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Sometimes I'm known to think a little different than the rest.

 

$650 Speaker: Get the best single used powered speaker you can find. Many have built in mix capabilities for 2 mics. QSC HPR122i often shows up on ebay for about $600.

 

$35 Mixer: If you need more mix channels to start, get the cheapest POS mixer you can find. (think Behringer) When you are ready to get a "real" mixer you can throw away the POS and not worry about what it cost.

 

$40 2 mic stands w/ pos mic + cable: MusiciansFriend.com often has a mic stand + mic combo for $20.

 

$40 Speaker stand: Search craigs list for the guy that has a listing every day for all kinds of stuff. Almost every town has 1 of these. Get the used Ultimate speaker stand form that person. (Or get the cheap one from online.)

 

Total: $765

 

$ 100 Upgrade: Pick up 2 used SM58 mics. Don't go over $50 each. More as budget allows. When you have enough, throw out the POS mics that came with the stands.

 

Total: $865

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thankd for the responses. here in the NOLA area ... this sort of equipment is sometimes found through word of mouth. i have a lead on a couple of microphones - Shure 57/58s and cables for around $125 or so ... will be exploring the vaious other suggestions as things pop up. there is 'that person' on CL who runs PA equipment ads quite frequently. i am going to contact him and see if i can have a look at his stuff. as long as he's not in a 'too seedy' part of town - we have those down here for the uninitiated.

 

i see the QSC equipment mentioned frequently - i am researching that now. here are a couple of 'interesting' CL links for anyone's opinion - thanks once again

 

http://neworleans.craigslist.org/msg/3216444340.html

http://neworleans.craigslist.org/msg/3188932125.html

http://neworleans.craigslist.org/msg/3218215302.html

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For jamming at home (loud) I just plug a single mic into a JBL PRX 512. It's got plenty of volume. I'd imagine a PRX 612 would be the same. It doesn't solve the need for more inputs with multiple vocalists though. You could probably find a 4 input "throw away" mixer on Ebay or Craigslist for $100 or so. Either that or get something like a used pair of powered JBL Eons that you could move to monitor duty.

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-PAIR-OF-JBL-EON10-G2-2WAY-PA-POWERED-SPEAKERS-/150884208888?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item23216650f8

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Used mic's are one thing, but I'd be scared of used speakers - no warranty - QSC normally is 5 year waranty excellent. Maybe you test them used they make sound but crank it up at a gig could be faulty, never know until AFTER you own them.

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so ... what could i get away with for $800-$1000 as a starter ... used. i plan on scouring CL and i will place some links to various stuff i see for sale for your opinions if y'all care to respond. give me starting speaker sizes, basic amplification wattage, cabling, and mixer info as you want. i know i can google specific suggestions - but if you can include a link to what you are describing ... i would grant you several irish blessings.


roger

 

 

Hi Roger,

 

For speakers, I would get 2 RCF312a's. These can be had for ~$450.00 each. If you can get a used pair on ebay cheeper, that would be good, but most who own them don't sell them.

 

These are fantastic speakers, and will work great over subs in the future if you expand. They are about 1/2 the price of all other speakers in their performance category and IMHO the absolute best value out there.

 

Since the speakers are powered, you only need a small mixer. I would suggest the A&H ZED 10fx, but these typically go for ~ $240.00 for floor models on ebay (I own one of these myself and it is a class act in a small mixer).

 

If that puts you out too much (I know I am over your 1K budget), you can do a couple of things different.

 

The first would be to downgrade the mixer to a Yamaha MG82CX which you can get for ~ $100.00 on ebay.

 

The second would be to stick with the mix wiz and get a single RCF312a.

 

All of these components are really good stuff and worthwhile gear to own.

 

My biggest advice is to get decent stuff. One RCF312a is going to get louder, be more articulate, and sound so much nicer than any number of cheep crap speakers (think Kustom, Carvin, Behringer, etc).

 

Either of the mixers you get can be easily sold on e-bay for about what you paid for them if you want to get something bigger in the future.

 

I seriously doubt you will ever get rid of the RCF312a's though. Even if you get a bigger rig in the future, they make great floor monitors or backups.

 

Links: http://www.ebay.com/itm/NICE-Yamaha-MG82CX-8-Input-Stereo-Mixer-with-Compression-and-Effects-/360482129851?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53ee68c7bb

 

I can't seem to locate a good link on the $450.00 price. Anyone else know if you can still get these at this price?

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