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PA Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by BayStateBass, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. I've been trying to read a lot, and I apologize ahead of time because I'm sure this comes up a lot and I know some of my questions will seem dumb.

    First of all, I am completely stupid when it comes to PA systems having never used one (I've always been an amp player, never got the chance to play anywhere nice enough to use a good PA). The band I am with has some opportunities to play nicer places with bigger crowds and the PA they have now isn't gonna cut it. It's always been a vocal-only PA, which consists of an 800W PA (I think it's a Behringer), two monitors (I think 400W each), and two towers (250W each, I think). No subs. Nothing fancy at all. And up until this point it's only carried 3 microphones because everyone has been amp-only.

    Now we are looking at upgrading to a better, bigger unit. And I'd like to have some information, at least some basics, and was hoping you could give suggestions because nobody in the group has much experience with PA's beyond vocals.

    What we will be running for instruments;

    Full band. Four guitars, bass, drums. Four microphones. Guitars are 3 electric, one acoustic with a pickup. Music focus is primarily country western and older rock, emphasis on vocals and guitars, but it needs to carry the bass as well.

    Venues it would be used in; medium to smallish-large sized clubs and outdoor venues (gazebo type performances at town parks, not football stadiums).

    We are pooling our money as a group (6 people), but we don't actually have a budget yet. I would think somewhere between $1K and $2K as a group is fairly do-able for everyone.

    Please help me with suggestions on what to look for and what not to look for. Any information you can give me, no matter how simple it seems to you, is probably something I don't know.
  2. throughthefire


    Oct 1, 2010
    Call a local PA rental company, and hire a PA for the first event or two. You'll get to see what's involved, how it works, and you won't be out $2K if it's not enough or too big.

    ..plus, you'll then have a contact at the PA rental company. Ask if they have any second-hand kit going for a song.
  3. kris pung

    kris pung

    Jul 25, 2003
    Chicago, IL
  4. Barisaxman

    Barisaxman Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    You're not going to get much for that budget beyond a vocal PA. Hire it out (charge more if necessary), or stick with what you've got and save for more. $2k is barely going to get you a decent top/sub per side (passive) let alone amps, processing, mixer, etc. even on the used market. I don't think your expectations are in line with your budget at this point.
  5. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    if everyone in the band can come up with 1or 2k each then you will have a usable budget.
  6. Keithwah


    Jan 7, 2011
    Milwaukee WI
    That's what I thought the OP was getting at originally, but after reading not sure.

    For $6k to $7k, you can get into using a Presonus Studio Live 16.4.2 console and a pair of JBL PRX or EV ELXP self powered tops with subs per side. You could convert the Berhinger stuff into stage monitors until you can afford something nicer. With a wireless router, a laptop and iPads or iPod touch or iPhones, you can run your own monitor mixes from stage, all of your system processing is available though the Presonus console. You would really be set for the local haul. Now if you are trying to cover 500 or playing outdoors, you must hire production, if the paycheck covers it.

    I'm seeing used Presonus boards running around $1200 these days, an amazing value! The JBL's are excellent and the EV's sound good and are a great value. Digital is the only way to mix live anymore!
  7. I'll share what we've done just to illustrate; plenty of places around here have no or poor PA support. So the drummer and I decided to put together a BUDGET PA.
    What we had to start with:

    ART TupePac mic pre/compressor (lead vocal mic pre)
    Lexicon MPX500
    DBX 166 XL
    Furman rack power supply
    mics for vocals and drums, stands, xlr and speaker cables.
    None of this is particularly great gear or perfect for what I'm using it for (the MPX has a very low noise floor and typically wonderful Lexicon reverbs, but it's not necessarily intended for PA use, the 166 not my favorite compressor), but it's stuff I had laying around.

    What we acquired:
    2 New Peavey PV215 speakers: $600 (we have our reasons)
    1 CS800X power amp: $220
    1 Q215 EQ: $75
    1 Peavey RQ2000 12 channel mixer $120 (soon to be replaced)
    Hardware for 16 space rack I made: $85 (I had the rack rails, handles, and all the plywood, etc).
    Total: $1100

    Now, without improving on any of the above, we need a monitor system (4 wedges, amp, eq. minimum) $600/$200/$50), but we're going IEM and a different board).

    So $1950. That's pretty cheap, and we're a blues band who plays small shows at moderate volume. We've played with it a little and the sound is surprisingly good, and this weekend we're sorting it out in a warehouse at gig volumes to get a feel for it with the full band. This will tell me what we really need to improve immediately.

    Long story short: $2k won't cut it. Since we started putting it together finances have improved, so we'll be upgrading components quickly. If you aren't a gear junky like me who just likes to buy gear, then $5k is what you'll be looking at without the need to play the upgrade game anytime soon.
  8. honestly...as misty mountain said, 1-2K wont cut it for you if that is your budget. im not saying that you won't find something, its more that you won't find something that will meet your personal tastes (i could be wrong).

    like you can buy a couple of speakers and a mixer well under 2k, for example a A&H ZED16 and 2 x Mackie SRM 450, for maine, but even though you may have a great mixer, your PA won't perfom the way you would like it to, and you will regret it. my suggestion is to save up some more, and get a system that you will be happy with the first time.

    and if you have the opportunity to be able to talk to a pro audio company (not a backyard pro audio company) then please do, the information is usually invaluable. or even rent some equipment if possible...
  9. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    I had to put together a PA recently on a similar budget...

    Here's where the "B" word comes in...

    For just under $2000 (thanks to the judicious use of some GC coupon codes) I put together an all Behringer PA that so far is serving us very well.

    2442FX mixer
    2 B215D powered mains
    3 F1220A monitors
    2 stereo 15 band graphic EQ's (3 channels for monitors, 1 for mains. We run a mono mix).

    Believe it or not, this system sounds GREAT, and so far no problems. We've used it in a few 600-800 seaters, and one outdoor venue, and it had plenty of power. Now bear in mind that I'm also an audio engineer, so I know how to make the most of it, but this is an example that it CAN be done on that budget. Of course I already had all the mics and cables I needed, you'll have to factor that in. But in my $2000 budget I had a $300 mixer rack that you probably don't need. Pick up an Audix drum mic pack and a couple of PG57's for guitars and there you go.
  10. tonybassman


    Jul 27, 2011
    You need more guitars...
  11. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Sorry your rig has fail written all over it. What kind of band are you? If you are micing any instruments especially drums there is no way that could cover a 600 seat room without sounding like a**.
  12. DuraMorte


    Mar 3, 2011
    How could you possibly know that?
    If you had done any research before posting, you would know that the B215D's are actually pretty good. Behringer mixers have always been decent, and there's no reason to think that the rest of the stuff sounds bad.
    Any issue Behringer stuff has ever had hasn't been sound quality, but durability. The stuff sounds fine. And as long as you don't abuse it (don't treat it like you would Peavey stuff), it will continue to sound good until it dies.
    All the Behringer gear I've ever used has sounded just fine. And I'm young and poor, so it's been quite a bit.
  13. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Well mic a kickdrum through it and turn it up to real world levels and get back to me.:rolleyes: That would be all the abuse those speakers could handle. If you read the specs for that cabinet it has suck written all over it. They claim it is 550 watts. They don't mention that it is PEAK watts. So it is roughly half that. They don't even list what the frequency response is at +- 3db. The way the cabinet is designed the louder you push it the less lowend it has. A kickdrum and bass guitar will really sound wonderful through it I'm sure at loud volumes. They might sound fine with subwoofers but on there own they are not going to cover 600 people.
  14. Barisaxman

    Barisaxman Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    ^What he said...I've heard plenty of small rigs sound good, but I still think the OP is expecting to put the whole band, fully miked, through a $2k PA. I've never heard that sound good in a big area. In a dive bar, I could put something together for that budget, but not for that size crowd.
  15. DuraMorte


    Mar 3, 2011
    Call me crazy, but ANY single 15" cab (in the sub-$1000 price range) is going to suck for kick/bass without sub reinforcement.
    Now, there may be some that suck slightly less, but they're all going to.
    Of course, an easy way to get around that is to not expect miracles, and use the stuff in the manner in which it is intended.
  16. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    If you peruse Craigslist diligently, you can most certainly get a decent PA for $2k. Granted it won't be the modern of components but still quite usable. I see Yamaha, Yorkville, EV and JBL stuff all the time. Biggest expense seems to be decent mixers & subs but Mains, Monitors, Amps, and Crossovers I've seen for pretty low prices. Churches upgrade and sell off old equipment all the time. Bands upgrade all the time and just wanna get rid of the old stuff!

    For example: http://norfolk.craigslist.org/msg/3205843872.html Too bad you don't live in my area!
  17. this isn't true at all...here are a few examples; pricing in CANADA

    - Mackie SRM450v2 $580ish (granted its mackie but i have used these successfully running a kit, bass, Acc. Guit, and vocal...it worked def better sounding than cardboard box sounding behringer)
    - Mackie HD1521 $900ish
    - JBL PRX615 $1100ish
    - JBL EON515XT $800ish
    - Wharfedale Titan15D $700ish

    and my list can keep going...i can add on EV, YAMAHA...and this is pricing brand new....

    now sub reinforcement will only round out the bottom end and make things sound more smooth, giving an overall extra push and feel to your sound, but if you have the right person mixing you can totally get a great sound from a 15" cab.
  18. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    For 600 people? I use to own Mackie 450s back before they sucked {Italian made RCF speakers} and once you put a speaker up on a pole 5ft off the groung you lose any decent bass response. The difference using them with subs was very noticeable. I have some EAW NT59s that were about $5 grand each and I would never try and cover more than 100 or so people at decent volumes without using subs. The last time I played for over 500 people we were using 4 JBL PRX535s and 6 QSC HPR subs.
  19. no not for 600 people....good speakers for under 1k....and up to about 300ish peeps...depending on the specific application....the mackies also are way more reliable than the Behringer...so you do know right that the was a remake of the SRM450..hence V2...they are totally better than the original....

    5k for 1 speaker and only 100 people. someone got ripped off....for upward of 300 peeps the best and most versitile system i have come across is a pair of JBL VRX932's and a pair of VRX918s (or the SRX equivilent as they are the same cab without fly hardware), per side, run off 4 QSC PLX 3002. mind you a pretty penny later you have a system to do any venue and any music and it sounds great...
  20. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Primarily country, and I can tell you it sounds great. Like I said, I know what I'm doing as I'm an audio engineer. But I guess you know better than me what something will sound like by looking at an equipment list.

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