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Need a PA But I Don't know @#$*&% About Them

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by FunkySpoo, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Every band I've ever been in already had a PA and someone to run it, so I'm clueless. I'm starting my own project for the first time and I have no idea what I should get. Let me say that budget is a concern as I have one kid in college and one on the way there next year. Wife, mortgage, car payment. The whole suburban enchilada. Now onto the band:
    3 vocals
    1 guitar
    1 keys
    1 drummer. We want to mic the kick
    3 horns
    1 bass, me. I have a big rig and loads of power so I don't have to be in the PA but it sure would be nice.

    Powered? Passive?
    We're not gonna be playing a lot or touring.Practice once a week and gig once a month. The venues are just the small restaurant/bars that don't usually even have a real stage. We'll just be in the corner or other side of the bar kinda thing. If there's 80 people in these places it'll be huge. Know what I mean? I posted this in the Carvin forum also since they seem to be a good deal.
    So feel free to ask me any questions for more info if I haven't given enough.

  2. For smaller room, a couple powered Mackie columns, and a powered sub or two works just fine. Simple setup and easy to run.
  3. jnuts1


    Nov 13, 2007
    if you are in small bars you don't need to go thru the PA. neither does anyone else besides horns & i think they should have darn amps too but they never do!

    i sometimes run a small bar band & i use the harbinger HA120. it's got 4 channels & it works prefectly for small gigs if everyone can keep their volume in check. at practice the horns should not even have to be amplified. volume control is key! especially if you are on a budget.
  4. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    My singer uses a peavey mixer, a QSC (I think) into 2 115 Yamahas. Now I don't know much about the power capabilities but I know the amp (again, I think it's QSC) is a 600 watt head and he's plenty loud. And our band is quite loud and he still hangs with us without a problem. Not sure that helps you or not.
  5. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Yeah, drums either. Practice is low volume. I'm also guessing there's going to a need for monitors at the gig. One each for the vocals and one for the horn section, keys and maybe drummer?
  6. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    so i'm guessing that while you don't have money to dump into PA, neither are you counting on band gigs to pay the bills?

    if so, why not skip the whole thing and actually enjoy these occasional gigs? hire a soundguy, let him deal with all of it, and go out and have fun!
  7. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Geez Walter, you don't think PA is fun :)? I agree with the small system idea: powered head & 2 way mains or 2 powered speakers, 2 monitor speakers for vox; only vox and maybe a little kick in the mains. It's relaxed and easy, and fine for small bar/restaurant gigs ...and inexpensive.
  8. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Rent! Then you can get a feel for what you need without spending a lot on a system which may not be good enough.
  9. tbirdsp


    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    IMHO - mic'ing the kick sounds like crap unless you have a sub. And I always mic the kick, so I always have a sub.
  10. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    If the sound guy is willing to work for 40 to 50 bucks like the rest of the band members then sure, why not. But I'm guessing that's probably not the case.
    I used to spend more on a set of new strings than I make on one of these gigs until I found Jason at BSO
  11. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    True. I think we're definitely going to go with a sub.
  12. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002

    I just realized that my statement makes it look like the wife doesn't work. She does. Hell she makes more than I do. :hyper:
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Does she give you a weekly allowance?

    Worked for me:

    #1) Determine your budget for hardware and peripherals (cables, etc).

    #2) Scan CL, TB classifieds. Used gear can be a huge cost savings.

    #3) Hook up a reputable sound guy, sit down, and discuss your needs. A local guy in Hampton spent 4+ hours with me....loved to talk and charged me $20.

    #4) When assembling a system, keep in mind that you'll doubtlessly be upgrading components in the future as funds, expertise, and taste evolve.

    #5) Read, read, read.

  14. Chazinroch


    Feb 2, 2003
    Ontario N.Y.
    Keep in mind if you go the powered mixer route and need a snake, you will need a "powered" snake. Personally I'd go powered speakers, passive mixer. I would also suggest a 12 or 16 channel mixer to give you some upside expansion if you do play larger rooms.
  15. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    I'm thinking my budget around $1600 to $1800. Especially if I can buy it in bits and pieces. $1800 smackers all at once would suck.

    You're lucky: $20 bucks for 4 hours? This is the D.C. burbs. We can't even get our neighbors 12 year old kid to come let the dog out if we're gonna be late for 20 bucks. And I don't mean take him out for an actual walk. just let him out in the fenced yard. Not kidding. :meh:
  16. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    :confused: Huh? Say wha?

    Our band uses a powered mixer and a standard snake.
  17. robd

    robd Supporting Member

    What I think he was trying to say is that if you use a powered mixer, the lines in the snake running from the powered speaker outputs on the board to the speakers should be speaker cable, not shielded instrument cable, which is usually the case with most snakes, since the returns on snakes are usually used for line level outputs to the amps onstage.


    Craigslist is your friend





    Just do a lot of legwork and check out reviews and comments of stuff on the net and then go and have the seller plug it up and give it a listen. Have Randy give you my number if I can be of help. I'm not really an expert but I have cobbled together a few used PA's in my time.
  18. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Thanks Rob. :bassist:
  19. ThirstyMonkey


    Jun 27, 2011
    From my own experience, I would definitely go with powered speakers over the powered mixer. It will up your cost for the speakers, but it'll make your life easier on the technical end. A decent set of powered speakers will have built in limiters and crossovers. Also, they'll likely be Class D amps in plastic enclosures which will save your back. My band has a pair of K12s as our mains. Price wise they're out of your budget, but several companies make similar products for less. Mackie, Yamaha, and EV all have something that should work in your budget.

    You will also have several options for your mixer. Given the instrumentation, I would go with a minimum of a 16 channel mixer. You'd be surprised what how quickly the channels fill up. Make sure it actually has sixteen channels. Lots of mid-level and low end mixers advertise X number of channels, but then you discover that they're have dedicated stereo inputs on several channels so what is advertised as 16 is really only a 12 or 8 input board. Also make sure you have enough aux/monitor sends to meet your current and future needs. You may not be thinking about monitor mixes or effects loops now, but you'll appreciate the flexibility down the road. Having the ability to channel inserts is also a big plus. My group uses a Presonus StudioLive 16.4.2. Again, probably out of your budget. But maybe you can score one used. BUt again, there are several companies that have products in your price range by Mackie and others (In fact, Carvin has a 16 channel board that has 2 effects auxes and 6 monitor auxes for around $600).

    As for a sub, I would hold off a bit on the sub and get the best mains and mixer you can afford. It'll be easy to add the sub later. It'll also matter less if the sub isn't "matched" to your mains. Until you have the sub, however, don't run kick through the PA. You really need the sub to get that cool thump going.

    Don't forget that you'll need cables to get everything hooked up. Monoprice.com is a great place to order high quality reasonably priced cables. Also, just go ahead and get a snake now. Make sure it matches your input/output needs. 16 input with 4 returns is a common configuration that should work for you.

    Before you buy anything new, jump on your local Craigslist and see what is available in your area. You might end up with the perfect system and save some serious coin.

    And one last bit of advice, there will be some folks who say don't use X brand. I only use Y brand. Without a doubt, some manufacturers are better than others. But the better products also tend to be significantly more expensive. Unfortunately, most of us have real budget constraints. Only you can decide what price point you'll be happy with. For my own part, my "backup" mixer is a Behringer mixer that I've had for going on five years. It is literally 1/10 the price of my main board. I've never had one problem with it and I doubt that any of our audiences (bar patrons) would ever notice any difference between the two.

    Good luck!
  20. Chazinroch


    Feb 2, 2003
    Ontario N.Y.
    A standard snake has xlr outs and line level outs (usually two 1/4" cables). So the line level outs, usually go to the power amps. Then speaker cords from power amp to speakers.

    A "powered" snake has no power per say, but has speaker cables in place of the usual 1/4" line out cables. When using a powered mixer it's the same as running a cord from a power amp.

    Not an expert but I think you can damage your powered mixer by using instrument (line level 1/4") cables to do directly to your speakers. Especially if it's a long run (10 feet or more)

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