My band is thinking of buying PA equipment. Are we on the right track?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by duo8675309, Dec 27, 2013.


  1. duo8675309

    duo8675309

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    I think I answered a lot of my own questions in typing this (sorry for the the length), but we could really use some input from people who have more experience than us! I'm looking for advice more than I am model numbers. My band has a nice handful of songs written and is in the process of setting up to play live. This post focuses on the technical challenges we are facing with that.

    To give this post a little context, our band has two guitarists, a drummer, and a bassist (me)! The lead guitarist is running through several pedals and a nice Fender amp. The vocalist/guitarist runs through a pedal or my laptop, depending on the day, and a bass amp. We model his guitar signal with an external device and use a bass amp as a very clean and *full* speaker (it actually sounds quite good). Our drummer has a loud kit and a heavy foot. Our vocalist/guitarist recently came close to buying a PA combo from Guitar Center, but decided he wanted to learn more about it before making the purchase.

    I believe what we are doing with his guitar is ultimately what we would want to do for everything using a PA (or really good speakers - I'm not sure of the difference). Whether mic'd or direct/digital, our entire band would go into a single source that would be amplified by really clean speakers. The same output that is sent out to our speakers could easily be sent out to a house PA or even recording software. The speakers would essentially be for practice and small gigs.

    Our main priority right now is amplifying his voice. Specifically, we want to amplify the very small piano speaker that his voice is coming out of (I haven't managed to find a way of distorting his voice with my laptop that sounds better). Everything else can be worked around. Since most venues we aspire to play will have their own PA's, it seems to me that we are in the market for buying a means to amplify vocals and guitar for small to medium gigs and practice. We have two bass amps, one 1x15 100w and one 2x8 115w. I think clever use of these will allow them to play the role of subwoofer for the system. They will have to for now.

    We currently have licensed versions of Logic and Guitar Rig, and this has led to some good results in live tone (particularly running his guitar through guitar rig and my hartke 1x15 100w - seriously). We also have two USB interfaces, one that has one input (two if you count MIDI), and another that has two inputs (three if you count MIDI). I know this isn't common practice, but we like the versatility and quality that using laptops allows us to have. I think if we could send both guitars, vocals, and possibly the snare out of a couple of PA speakers and the guitar amp we have, and send the bass guitar and kick drum out of the two bass amps we have, we would sound pretty damn good. While it would be nice to have mixer one day, I believe we could use the software we currently have to bypass a mixer and potentially save money. Which reminds me:

    We are on a budget. As such, the equipment we are about to buy will be budget equipment (low-end, used, or both). We are trying to stay within $1000, but I believe that for the size and scope of what we are trying to accomplish, we could get by with spending even less. I think the most important thing is getting everything mixed correctly, and I believe we have the computing power to do that in a live setting. If that's the case, that's a huge chunk of money we don't have to spend (or have already spent). Through the course of writing this, I've come to think our purchases should be, in order of importance, an amp and speakers. I know nothing about PA's, so I suppose I'm off to go do a little research. But do you guys think we're on the right track? I would hate to spend a lot of money on something we didn't need.
     
  2. DerTeufel

    DerTeufel

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    You have to ask yourself if you just want a PA for vocals, or do you intend on having everyone run through the PA. Also, if you want to use your laptop as a mixer, you're going to need an interface that will allow multiple inputs. Buying a passive 8 channel mixer would be cheaper.
     
  3. BobWestbrook

    BobWestbrook Mr. Supporting Member

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    What kind of music is it?
     
  4. duo8675309

    duo8675309

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    We will be sending more than vocals through the PA. I edited my original post after reading this. We currently have two interfaces, one allowing one input (two if you count MIDI), and another that allows two inputs (three if you count MIDI).
     
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  6. duo8675309

    duo8675309

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    Rock N' Roll
     
  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member

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    yeah, i don't see it.
     
  8. DerTeufel

    DerTeufel

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    I pieced together a small, but functional PA for my band for under 600 bucks. Granted, we already had all the cables and speaker stands, and I already had an 8 channel mixing board. I got a used Carvin power amp and two 15" Kustom PA cabs from a small mom'n pop music store. We typically do small bar gigs and it serves our needs just find. I do have this to say - Using the correct equipment for what you want to do makes things so much easier than trying to re-purpose items for something than their intended purpose.
     
  9. DerTeufel

    DerTeufel

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    Me neither..I see those bass combos self-destructing.
     
  10. duo8675309

    duo8675309

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    What do you mean?
     
  11. DerTeufel

    DerTeufel

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    You stated that you wanted to try to use those bass combos as subwoofers for the PA. They won't be able to withstand that kind of abuse for very long. Buy the proper equipment.
     
  12. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

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    The bass combos are not up to or intended for the task at hand. The speakers will go the way of the dodo bird within 5 minutes. As you mentioned, some bass amps are more than suitable for guitar.

    You can pick stuff up cheaply on CL. It won't be stellar but it'll get the job done...for now. Your budget is hamstringing the project big time.

    Riis
     
  13. BobWestbrook

    BobWestbrook Mr. Supporting Member

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    You can often pick up a used Yamaha EMX series 6 channel powered mixer cheap, or a similar Peavey box. Personally, I would not buy PA speakers used, but I've had good success with these Carvin PM series speakers. Two PM10 with cables for $279. http://www.carvinguitars.com/pm/
     
  14. BobWestbrook

    BobWestbrook Mr. Supporting Member

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  15. duo8675309

    duo8675309

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    This setup is literally just for small gigs and practice. If my bass amp can handle my bass right now it can handle filling out the drums a little. Now that you mention it though, I should probably only use the hartke for the bass and send the drums out of the old peavy with the broken knobs. The bass and lead guitar are currently playing at volume, so we are not trying to play louder as a whole - we are trying to bring the vocals and second guitar up to the same volume level. Whatever we end up doing with the second bass amp will be more or less for the hell of it lol.
     
  16. DerTeufel

    DerTeufel

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    Your bass amp is designed to handle your bass guitar. The "whomp" of a kick drum or floor tom is a different story, but since you feel that you know better, go for it.

    I still stand by what I said though - buy the proper equipment. I know that I will eventually upgrade and add to what I already have.
     
  17. BawanaRik

    BawanaRik Supporting Member

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    You can probably get a used Yamaha EMX PA head of the bay for a couple hundred bucks. Look around for a deal on used quality speakers. More efficient speakers will sound louder and allow you to play larger rooms without carrying a ton of junk.

    Learn how to make your own cables and test each one with a multi-meter. Get a Multimeter.
     
  18. trevcda

    trevcda

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    Stop mic'ing drums at practices, rehearsals and small gigs! Especially with sub par equipment. It's completely counter productive. By the time you get the amp up high enough to add anything to the drummers sound, if it's even possible, you're going to toast the amp. Especially when "Our drummer has a loud kit and a heavy foot." If you're lucky it will just quit and not make a sound. If you're not so lucky, you'll get to listen to die a slow painful death as it adds squealing, crackling and popping to your song.

    Someone else can address the single feed to the pa conundrum or the mixing from stage to an unknown pa and expecting stellar results issues. Hit a couple of live sound forums and ask people who have been there before.
     
  19. duo8675309

    duo8675309

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    Oh definitely. I wasnt trying to argue your point, thats just not our focus right now. As soon as we can afford something better or figure out a better approach we'll do that. The peavy literally has both gain knobs broken off and turned all the way up, and we have the EQ, bass, and treble knobs turned all the way up for brevity. I feel like its only right that we blow it.

    For the record, I'm going through a Hartke Kickback 100w with an aluminum 15 inch cone. I keep the EQ flat, the volume at 5, and bounce back and forth between my sansamp and guitar rig for tone.

    I lied. His kit isnt loud at all :cool: (but his foot is heavy). I feel like this post has gotten derailed a bit. My main concern is amplifying vocals and guitar. The bass and drums are fine for now.
     
  20. duo8675309

    duo8675309

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    Thank you! Is shipping generally reasonable with equipment this size? I would prefer to go the used route, but had assumed that pawn shops/ma and pa shops were the way to go.
     
  21. shaft311

    shaft311 Supporting Member

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    No. A venue worth playing will have its own PA setup.

    Edit: It would be good to have a small PA in the rehearsal space.
     

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