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Is it vital to have 2 PA speakers?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by fdeck, Oct 23, 2010.


  1. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I'm sure it depends on the intended use. This would be for jazz combo gigs at relatively low volume in small venues, where the keyboard and bass tend to be either acoustic or self-amplified, and a PA is only for reinforcing a singer or horn player.

    I've got the pieces to assemble a simple PA with one lightweight speaker.

    My question is:

    Is it vital to have two speakers? What would be the harm of having just one speaker on the bandstand? Of course I'm tempted to try it regardless of anyone's advice. :D But I always welcome both technical and practical knowledge, and I know that there are TB'ers with much more expertise on sound reinforcement than I have.
     
  2. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    montana
    One speaker can work just fine as long as it can cover the room. If you need to cover a wide area you could run into problems. What speaker do you plan to use?
     
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    i've done it before when i was doing a solo gig. worked fine tonally. so you lose stereo but for a live gig stereo's not important.
     
  4. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    Oregon
    I've done a zillion gigs that way. I call it the "point source" method. I love the simplicity of it. :D

    I try and put the single speaker in or near a corner so most folks get a decent line of sight to it. Mics in front of the main can be tricky but there's been no feedback incidents on my watch.
     
  5. GianGian

    GianGian

    May 16, 2008
    I can't see the problem. I feel ripped off when I go to big shows and I notice that the sound is stereo. I mean, if I am on the right side I hear only half of the noise.
     
  6. WayneP

    WayneP Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2004
    Corpus Christi, Texas
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    i agree, and yet, all pa systems are stereo. what gives???

    :D
     
  8. WayneP

    WayneP Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2004
    Corpus Christi, Texas
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    ok, well they all have the capability for stereo. sorry i wasn't exactly specific there, wayne.

    :D
     
  10. WayneP

    WayneP Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2004
    Corpus Christi, Texas
  11. Hi.

    IME, it's better to have one decent speaker than two or more crappy ones. I'm one of those people who has done "single point" PA gigs as well.

    + 1000

    My guess is that the STEREO hype has just stuck from the early days. In fact, there's a lot of mixing desks that don't label the main outs as left and right.

    Stereo is not the way (creative ;)) sound engineers think about the two main outs. To them they're just two semi-independent (pan control) outs. Usually one is used for the mains, the other one for other purposes.

    Regards
    Sam
     
  12. Just because there are left and right spkrs doesn't mean a system is stereo.
    I'm running a big PA that's fully stereo-capable in mono these days.
    Except for being able to pan some guitar to the off-side (away from his loud but awesome Mesa Boogie) I can't really think of a good reason to bother with stereo.

    With speakers, it's always a coverage thing.
    Some rooms need more stuff to help everyone hear the music correctly.
    If you can fill the room with one cabinet, go for it!
     
  13. :D I bet 90% of the stereo mixers out there used for PA have everything panned to the center..

    Randy
     
  14. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    If it covers the room, then who cares.
     
  15. rpsands

    rpsands

    Jul 6, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    It'll work well to have a single PA main if you know its dispersion angle and plan accordingly. The challenge here is getting uniform volume throughout the room with a single speaker.

    What tends to happen is with the normal angle of even a good quality PA cab (90 degrees or so, maybe 110-ish) you're forced to either have dead spots or set it on one side of the room and aim for coverage (and also have it farther away from the audience). Doing the latter means you're going to have it be a little quieter on one side of the room (ranging to much quieter in a very big room).

    So tl;dr: You need to tell us more about the design you're using. If I was going to use a single speaker solution I'd recommend you go with one of Bill Fitzmaurice's designs, myself. They are excellent at filling rooms from one spot.
     
  16. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    It is often quite difficult to get both good monitoring and good house coverage with just one cabinet. My last jazz trio worked with no monitors most of the time, but we often used two cross-fired cabs in front to allow the diva and the keyboard player to hear themselves. In many cases only one cab was really covering the room and the other one was essentially a monitor. Worked fine for us.
     
  17. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Yep. The only thing I typically use the stereo function for much is effects, which IMHO and IME often sound exponentially better that way. It is also pretty useful to have independent EQ on each side of the FOH stacks.
     
  18. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Thanks for the excellent tips!
     

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