gig advice - PA's, etc.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by electricdemon3, Jun 17, 2002.

  1. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    So, this summer, my band plans on being a bit more serious and we may even shoot for playing a few gigs. I was just curious to hear some advice from some of you veterans.

    First issue: we don't have a PA. We are thinking of getting one, but aren't sure what to look for. I saw a package deal that included a mixer, speakers, and 4 mics by yamaha for $800. I also saw a similar package thing by Mackie for $2000. Is it necessary to spend this much for a PA?

    In typical bar settings what do you guys typically use a PA for? Do you mainly just use it for vocals/acoustic instruments or do you also use it to mic drums, guitar amps, etc. as well? I am guessing in smaller situations, miking drums and guitar amps probably isn't necessary.

    Also, do smaller bar type places have their own sound equipment you can use and if they do and you own a PA, will you just use your stuff?

    By the way we play metal.

    Sorry for the ignorance and asking so many questions, but I am new to this whole thing. I have seen many local bands play but I have never stopped to pay attention to their sound equipment or ask questions about this kind of thing.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    The answer to your question is; depends.

    The last gig I did was in a small bar. It was part of an arts exhibition and the organisers provided PA and two engineers for the whole fortnight. Even though it was a small room they decided to mike up the backline with two on the kit.

    I got roped in to do the sound for a mates band as the bar provided the PA and the band thought that an engineer was part of the deal. We also found out the hard way that microphones and monitors werent part of the deal. Try engineering a jazz funk band with 2 sax, percussion and vocal mics with the speakers behind the band. The same thing happened to Paul A's band recently. The PA was delivered with no engineer and no mention of it.

    A lot of bands doing small gigs tend to use a PA head two FOH speakers and one or two monitors. Some use an engineer but many don’t and just run the vocals through it.

    I'm auditioning for a covers band who play small pubs. Apparently they have an engineering who has adopted the band and does all their gigs.

    So you can

    Buy or hire a PA and run the vocals through it
    Hire a PA with engineer on a one-off basis and let him do all the work.
    Get a long term engineer and hire/buy the PA.

    Sometimes it can be good to get yourself an engineer who is a band member. He gets an equal cut of any money and goes to the rehearsals and drinking/curry sessions.
  3. We all have stories to tell about rocking up to find the PA piled up in the corner and the audiences shouting "hurry up and play!"

    I guess it helps to know/learn how to fly the machine you will be buying. I have been bought up in a family of sound engineers so i have been lucky, and so i showed my singer the ropes too, 4 hands are better than two.

    So when we rocked up to find the PA not even set up, we just set it up. Always bear in mind "out to in" I want to go Into the mixer, Out of the mixer IN to the Amp, out of the amp Into the speakers. Workes every time. And everythings clearly marked.

    So yeah, buy a PA, and learn how to use it. So if there is no engineer, put it on a table next to your amp and balance a general mix. Then u get your mates to stand in the audience and point up for vocals etc.

    I am in a death metal band where PA is usually supplied. It depends on the genre and where you are playing. Scope out the venue at least two weeks before the show. I talk to the owners, discuss PA, engineers etc. So that way if they say "nup we don't do that" then i can make arrangements.


  4. PJR


    Jun 20, 2001
    N.E. PA
    ..That depends on what you want out of a PA.

    It's a broadly used term that can include a simple powered mixer w/2 small speakers (and a few vocal mics) a more complex multi-amp system with an integrated speaker system, with outboard effects......

  5. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    That shouldn't be a problem, I have gone to school to learn how to be a recording engineer, so I can figure out the gear, I am just new to the whole live sound thing. At my school we had a course on it, but they didn't talk much about how it works in smaller venues where bands frequently use their own PA systems.

    As for what we want out of the PA, we just need something that will allow our singer to be heard mainly, maybe also for miking the kick and snare. I was just wondering how everyone else uses one. Now that I think about it though, having a few monitor speakers might be nice as well.
  6. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I knew some guys in my old town, they got a Carvin pagackage and were pretty darned happy with it. I heard it on more than a few occasions, and it worked just fine.
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Well it's VERY easy to spend that much.

    Go price some mikes: a Shure SM-58 is $100, four means $400 (HALF of what that Yamaha package costs!).

    Go price speakers: about the cheapest you can get any kind of good cabinet (mains or monitor wedge) for new is $200. Two mains, two wedges comes to $800.

    We still haven't priced out mixer, power amps, mike stands, cables, etc.

    You mentioned you play metal, that usually means LOUD...that means you need a bigger PA than a quieter band, more $$$.

    You can get by cheaper if you buy used, but it's still a large outlay to equip a band with a PA. The biggest mistake most bands make is buying something cheap that isn't up to the job.

    Consider renting a PA instead of buying. Contact local sound contractors and see what they can provide. In Boston you can get full PA with lights and a soundman to run it for about $200 a night. Then all you need is a gig that pays more than $200 :rolleyes:
  8. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    I just checked out the Carvin site. It looks like they have a few different package deals, all with different mixer options(number of channels/watts) and speaker sizes. Do you happen to know what one those guys used?
  9. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Woodland Hills, CA
    My band bought the 12 channel rack mountable one with the 2 mics, 2 cabs w/ 15 + 8 + horn and 1000 watt power amp.

    We are happy with it.

    I also personally own a small Yamaha pa which isn't as loud but IMO sounds better.
  10. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Pretty positive it was the P800-832 system. They were a rock band, but some local metal guys (shameless plug of ) used the mixer and some JBLs, and there wasn't a lot of difference, so you'd do just fine with the carvin gear.
  11. Well, I'm using a 4 input + 4 mic-input Carlsbro 1400 Cobra PA mixer head, with two 1x.12 Laney 100WATT speakers. I lvoe the sound, but I'd like more EQ than just treble + bass.

    This cost me a total of £320 (speakers weere second hand and one of the cones was burst, so bring that to about £370).

    I got a Shure mic for £30, its a pro-am kinda thing.
    Shure make pretty good mics imo.

    My PA can handle guitar pretty damn good, and bass, with two mics all very well, and can get enough volume to give a medium sized assembly hall (300-500 people) sound. - chekc 'em out, budget pirced mixers which give decent sound.