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pa system advice

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by n8g14, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. n8g14


    Apr 1, 2003
    my band is looking at buying a pa system, we play small shows here and there and have some money to spend. so anyway, we're working with about $300 and don't know much of anything about systems. the package deals we can afford have bad reviews, so would it make sense to buy the speakers and mixer separately? any advice would be appreciated. rock on
    nate and definite maybe
  2. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA

    Attached Files:

  3. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    It would help alot if we knew a little more about your band and music. Can you tell us a bit more about...

    - Will you be looking to mic the vocals only or would you be micing the instruments as well?

    - How many Band members? How many of them will be/are singing?

    - What type of music do you play and how loud do you play?

    - You mentioned "small shows", can you give us more detail... Indoor or outdoor? How big are the rooms you play in on average? How many people are you playing for?

    P.S. You might want to read the following thread... It won't help you with what PA to buy, but it will help you to consider some of the advantages/disadvantages of having a band purchase a P.A.:


    - Ugly.
  4. n8g14


    Apr 1, 2003
    i realized i should have been more clear in my first post, so here's the details: there are four people in our band, currently three sing. the pa system would only be used for vocals. we're a punk band so we're fairly loud, however the shows we play are small and usually indoors, probably an average of 75 to 100 people. in the past we've borrowed a roland 180 watt keyboard amp to use for vocals and that has done the job for the most part, a little more sound would be nice. thanks for the advice
  5. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    I doubt you'll be able to do much better than the Musician's Friend Nady P.A. package Gabu posted above for the money you're looking to spend. There's not much available that isn't a complete waste of money for under $500 in a P.A. system.

    Personally I'd recommend saving some more $$ and at least getting speakers that are at least a little better like Peavey's Prolite PR-15s. If you are able to come up with about $800, I'd suggest getting the Peavey speakers and this Behringer PMX2000 Head. You'd still need to add two speaker cables and speaker stands though.

    - Ugly.
  6. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Good grief, you're a punk band and you want to buy new gear? What's this world coming to? :cool:

    Seriously though, 300 bucks is about enough for 3 adequate mikes, plus stands and cables, if you're buying new. Look around for something used, and ugly. I've set plenty of bands up with repaired gear for that price that got them through enough gigs to work up to something better. One thing people tend to forget about when pricing out their first PA is monitors. Personally, I'd start there, since you need them to practice with vocals anyway. I've done 100 seat gigs with just monitor speakers more times than I'd like to admit.
  7. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    Honestly, I'd go used if you want to stay on a budget.
  8. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    I hear used.... and generally you can get better gear that way. But I like new because it generally has a warranty... and you never know with complete certainty why the used gear is being sold.

    Don't get me wrong... some of my favorite gear has come to me used... But if you have $300 and money doesn't come by very easily to you... you might enjoy having the peace of mind that you get with a warranty.

    G'luck with your choice and I checked out your webpage too... It looks cool. :) Have fun on your coming tour!
  9. If you want something with any upgrade potential at all, I would suggest just getting one JBL Eon powered speaker. Get a second as soon as you can afford it. Even with one it will be much better than an amp for keys and with multiple boxes you could eventually build a very decent-sounding, reliable system.
  10. BTW with a powered speaker like the Eon there is no need for a mixer for vocal only use, mic pre's are on the back.
  11. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    300 bucks is a tough tough deal. I HATE jbl eons (or any powered speakers for that matter), but you might have to get one of these used for a while. Keep in mind that that gives you one mic input unless you get a mixer.

    To put things in perspective, (and maybe get depressed), check out this thread too.........http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=153393
  12. n8g14


    Apr 1, 2003
    i have what may be a dumb question, but me and the band members don't know much about these systems. do you have to go with a powered mixer, or could we get something like a small behringer eurorack mixer and buy some speakers to go with that? i was looking on a couple sites and magazines and if we wouldn't need a powered mixer it seems like we could buy the parts of a system individually and save some money.
  13. If you don't have a powered mixer (or active speakers) you have to have a separate power amp...whole setup (mixer, amp, speakers, cables) would probably be too pricey. Maybe I'm uninformed, but I still believe your best bet for the money would be to go with a decent active speaker system.
  14. Unfortunately Parts Express has discontinued them, but in last year's catalog they sold a 250 watt plate amplifier/mixer with 2 mic XLR inputs and a line in, second speaker out...for $139. I think they were marked down to $118 at the end...buy one of these, and a couple of el cheapo speakers and you're good to go. Parts Express part #300-797

    P.S they're still in stock at $119 each!!! Go for it, build your own powered speaker

  15. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
  16. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Some good advice here.

    I also am not a fan of the JBL Eons. I find that on some occasions powered speakers to be impractical. If you have two speakers, you'll need to find two additional outlets. In some venues, this can be tricky. Also if you plan to mount them on stands, you might also find that the power cord isn't long enough. Even if you don't mount them on stands, some venues may require additional extension cords just to get them to reach an outlet.

    My advice is to think about what you would like in a PA for the future, and plan accordingly. I know that you are guys are strapped for cash, but if you buy equipment that will soon be unusable for your needs with little resale value, you'll be wasting money. Worse, if you buy something shoddy you might have something that's broken that will be worth close to nothing.

    Passin wind has it right with the monitors. You'll want those trust me. If the audience can hear you, but you can't hear yourself the audience might not like it. If you're singing out of key and you can't tell, your performance is hindered.

    $300 isn't much to work with. But, with a couple hundred more you can get something that is not only usable, but scalable as well. Pick up some speakers that you can use as mains until you can afford monitors. Get a power amp that will be able to run both monitors and mains. Get a mixer that will have enough channels for what you might want to do for the future.

    Another thing to keep in mind with the cost of things is the cost of cables. Cables aren't cheap. You might consider saving some money by buying some bulk wire and connectors and making your own. Also don't forget mics and stands as well.
  17. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Those little Behringer boards work very well - quiet preamps, nice EQ controls, headroom, channel inserts, built-in effects (effects are a little noisy for some reason)... The prices on those things are amazing; our band uses a 12-channel one.

    Reliability isn't so good with behringer stuff though. That euro-series would include a great board for you guys, and I'd highly recommend them - wrap it in a big'ol blanket or something for transport, and turn stuff on one at a time, in proper order. We were blowing up compressor channels by the month until we stopped throwing everything on at once with a power strip!

    n8g14: You can get tons of help here - we'll steer you right. ..But c'mon, man - you have the internet; at LEAST do the tiniest bit of study on the subject, Man. At least learn the very basics of mic level / line level / speaker level. Power amps are big and heavy, and have big, hot heatsinks hanging out of them, or whirring cooling fans; they have to pump hundreds of watts of power to drive the voice coils in the speakers that rattle your windows. Mics generate a tiny, tiny electrical signal directly from infintessimal little waves of pressure in the air around them. Obviously you need to amplify this tiny tickle of voltage into a big, honkin' current to drive the speakers. --So here's how it goes:

    1) Mic to preamp - the preamp turns mic level into line level. Line level is small, but at least has enough oomph to be routed around and distributed between various circuits and components and processors and whatever, without having to be all balanced and shielded to keep from being suseptable to picking up noise and static every time someone straightens their sweater. Splitting and mixing, EQing and level controls and all that is done at line level. Boards that have mic inputs have mic preamps, so everything going on in the board (after the preamp, that is) is line level. Mic level is measured in milli-(thousanths-of)-Volts; line level is measured in Volts.
    2) Power amps take this nice, easy-to-deal-with line level, and goes the other way - it turns it back into a not-so-easy to deal with signal again, but this time it's because there's so MUCH power involved. A big pro power amp has enough power to kill you at the output terminals - tens or hundreds of Volts, at tens to hundreds of Amperes!

    No, you can't drive a speaker from the line level that comes out of a euro-board.

    Now go Google-up some more learnin' for yourself! (anyone have a link handy to a decent PA tutorial?)

    Be careful: it's easy to misappropriate even a thousand dollars on PA stuff if you don't know what you're doing, and end-up with bad sound.


    (edit) Oops - I forgot somthing important: That's why you hear reference here to "powered mixers" - a powered mixer has a power amp built-in, so that you CAN plug speakers directly into it.
  18. Carvin.com has some nice options.

    I opted for the PM15A, some Samson mics, and a Behringer Eurorack for a total of like, $550. It's works awesome for band practice, is very upgradable (though you'll later need a power amp for non-active speakers). I'm sure we could do a small small show, like a house party or something slightly bigger. Their packages are decent though.
  19. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    With careful shopping and a bit of luck, you'd be amazed what you could come up with for $300...

    Keep an eye out for Sonic PA speakers, especially on eBay. Sonic (www.sonicspeaker.com) is located in Wisconsin, near Milwaukee and Sonic the brand seems to be quite regional. What this means to you is that people seldom bid much on them and there are few bidders...this can add up to a great deal for you...

    I've also found that the Peavey DECA series amps can be a bargain too...I bought a nice DECA 424 (200 watts per channel) for about $75...