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PA system help

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bluemonk, Nov 28, 2004.

  1. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    I've searched and read the stickies, but still have a basic PA question: I need to buy/rent a PA system for a rock band. I'm just starting to learn about these systems. What I'm leaning toward is a smallish system (around 4600 portable system) for vocals and maybe keys and then use the amps for guitar sound. I'd prefer, though, to get the guitar in the system, too. We will be playing small to medium venues, like small bars, coffeehouses, large parties. The music is 60's rock, nothing that requires huge sound. I've come to this conclusion because it seems like getting the bass in the main system requires a lot more $$. What do you think? :help:
  2. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i have absolutley no clue what you mean by 4600 portable system.

    a powered mixer is ok for just vocals and mayeb some keys. Putting a little guitar in the mix is generally ok with those as well. If i was going to put a pa setup together i would get the best mains speakers i could with stands) and a powered mixer if i needed to save money. 1x12 mans with horns are ok for a lot of stuff, 1x15 mains with horns work better for larger gigs or where you need pa support with bass. Of course, you still have to think about monitors, etc. if you had the money for monitors as well you might ant to think about getting a powered mixer will let you use its internal poweramp to run the monitors, and that will let you run a line to an external, more powerful poweramp to run the mains. then i would buy a couple of small monitors.

    not that you need anything like this, but let me put things in perspective for you. My guitar player does sound for other bands as well, and has a decent income. This is what we bring to gigs;

    2 1x15 main speakers (some kind of EV)
    2 speaker stands fo rthe mains
    2 monitors
    2 power amps (one for mains, one for monitors) in a six space skb rack
    a mackie 16 channel board in an skb case
    another six space skb case with a power conditioner, two delay units (one set for reverb, one set for "echo"), a quad compressor, and a stereo 31 band graphic eq for the monitors
    4 fifty foot speaker cables
    a 12 channel 50' snake
    2 sm58 vocal mics, 3 sm57 instrument mics, 1 akg bass drum mic, 3 sennheiser clip on drum mics
    2 mic stands with booms and 4 mini mic stands
    a direct box
    at least 10 mic cables (some as long as 50 feet)
    a bunch of heavy duty power cables and power strips sp we can get power no matter how far from the stage the power is
    soem rubber mats to cover the snake and power cables so people don't trip and sue us or the venue
    a bunch of patch cables to connect stuff.
    all the cables are in a couple of rubbermaid containers and they are heavy

    we don't always mic the drums or use all 3 instrument mics (it depends on how many amps he brings - wer'e a trio) we also don't usually run my bass into the direct box into the pa either. FYI, he also usually brings a small set of lights, but that's another story. In the case of doing sound for bigger venues and several bands we may bring two subs, a third power amp to run them and a crossover in yet anothe skb case, lots more mics and mic stands, more direct boxes for keys and such, more lights, a longer snake, two more monitors, and a heck of a lot more cords.

    like i said, youdont need to jump in and get anything that involved, but having played with a bunch of bands that owned pa setups, i can say that there arent too many things i would take out of our current setup if we had to. maybe using 1x12 mains, smaller monitors, ditching the delay units, using one power amp with one channel for mains and one for monitors, and not bringing the direct box and drum mics. even with all tha tgone a pa is still a big and expensive item
  3. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    Thanks, IvanMike.
    I didn't know what I meant by 4600 system, either! Had to check the computer keyboard: I meant $600 system.

    I'm hoping that if we get a gig at a bigger place, they will have a PA system for us to use. Do you find that to be the case? Then I'd just need to cover us at smaller places. Your system sounds great! There's no way I could afford it, although I could rent one, so thanks for dtailing it.
  4. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    some bigge rplaces have house pa systems that are decent, soem have terrible ones. Most don't. for six hundred i would check out used powered mixers and a couple of 1x12 mains with stands. you really don't need to put drums and bass thru the system for a lot of gigs, and even guitars generally don't need pa support. most small and medium sized gigs can be done with a small system, but in the future i would look into getting a poweramp and monitors. As far as vocal mics go, sure sm58s are pretty much the standard. not the best, not the worst, but at 100 bucks each they sound pretty good and are darned near indestructable.
  5. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    Unless you buy used, with $600 it is going to be tough to get what you need. If you buy new, you won't get high end stuff. Behringer and Alto make inexpensive powered mixers with built in EQs and effects (250-350.) Steelsound has complete packages on ebay all the time (not high end stuff.)

    As for speakers, ebay has tons of imported speakers that would fit in your budget (sound quality may be poor.) Peavey makes a line of passive speakers called Pro-Lite that can be bought with free shipping for 159.00. Speaker stands, speaker cables, mics, mic stands, mic cables are going to run you well over $600.00
  6. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    I agree, $600 isn't going to go very far. Even to get a small usable PA, that is gonna be pretty tough with that small of a budget.

    Your best bet is to go used and see what you can find.
  7. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    Thanks, all. I'll keep looking and saving!
  8. jiant.


    Jul 3, 2004
    Fort Mill, SC
    I agree with the statement made that Sure SM58s are good mics, and there is a guy(not anyone I know, just trying to help a fello TBer) in the for sale forum selling them for $50 shipped to your door. Here's the link to it:

    I hope you get the system you want! God Bless! -Brad
  9. Larzito


    Aug 1, 2000
    Dallas, Texas
    I think we all agree $600 is not going to buy much. My advice would be to keep saving. The PA listed above is nice and something to aspire to, but here is my take on what you need for a basic PA that can be decent to good quality for not that much money.

    Powered mixer with two separate internal power amps, one for the mains and one for the monitors. I used to think these were crap, but my attitude changed once I met the Mackie, and overall the industry is providing some good quality feature packed units that will meet most of your needs. Peavy, Yamaha, Mackie (in order of price/quality). I have the Mackie 808S (paid $706- shop around...Guitar Center charges too much for this very common model) and it is surprisingly versitile, powerful, reliable. I know 3 other people with this model...we are all very happy with it. It has basic compression and reverb built in.

    Two PA speakers with folding stands. EV (Electro Voice) makes a very affordable 1-15/horn that sounds terrific. Should cost you $250 each if you shop around. The mixer/main PA speakers are the heart of your system. I have the Mackie C300's...light and powerful.

    Other necessities include two 50' speaker cables and however many mic cables you need. Sure SM58 is a sure bet as mentioned above. Sure SM57's are great swiss army knife mics...kick drums, guitars, vocals...and very rugged.

    Add some floor monitors and you have yourself the basic gig PA. Yamaha aren't bad and are low priced. I bought a pair of used EV SX200 with the monitor stand add on for $500 for the pair...again, light weight and powerful. Don't buy crap for monitors...this is how you will hear yourself...a miserable gig is one where the vocals are distorted all night long due to poor monitor quality.

    Obviously, you can spend a lot or a little, but just remember, if you don't spend enough money the first time to get something at least decent, you will soon be frustrated into spending even more money to get something that will do the job. Stay with well known, respected brands that you see on stages at gigs you go to. And another also, a lot of guys drag a whole lot of gear to a gig and have these mammoth PA's to play little clubs. I've never met a room where the setup described couldn't provide decent sound for a gig...if I need more than that, usually the larger clubs have a house PA...or I could borrow/rent what was needed. Save and search for small powerful high quality gear and do it right the first time.
  10. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    The latest musiciansfriend catalog has Yamaha power mixers at greately reduced prices. Has anyone used any of the Yamaha models?
  11. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Where are you in Michigan? I have a Carvin 12 channel PA with built in EQ with 2 15 inch mains and 2 12 inch monitors with Carvin Power amp with all the cables included for sale for not much more than you are playing with now, PM me maybe we can work something out if your interested? It's a good little PA that sounds good and is easy to use and dial in.
  12. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    Good advice. Better to save and get a little more than you need presently, you can grow into that. Don't get enough the first time around, and you'll grow out of it too quick. We kind of splurged and went way overboard, but we don't have to bring our whole PA everytime. We do insist on using it as often as possible though, because one thing we've learned is not to depend on a venue's PA!!!!!
  13. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    Great post with lots of practical info. Thanks.
  14. mwm70


    Oct 27, 2004
    How much power would you suggest for a small to medium sized bar gig? I am in a cover band with bass, guitar drums and female singer doing classic rock to modern pop. We are looking to buy a PA and would like to be able to run all instruments along with the vocals through it. Currently looking at a 12 channel powered mixer with two 400 watt amps in it. Plan was to run two Peavey PR15 (15/horn) as the mains and two Peavey PR10S (10/horn) as monitors. Is 400 watts enough for a small bar gig? Thanks in advance for any advice or experiences.
  15. seanm

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

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Our trio has a little PA we use only for mics. However, we played at a house party where my amp was in front of me. One of the PA speakers was behind me, so I ran a little of the bass through a spare channel on the PA so I could hear myself better. The band loved it! Now I always run a little bass through the PA, even for practices. So make sure you have at least one extra channel :D
  16. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    that should be ok as long as you're not depending upon the pa to provide all of the bass guitar amplification. As you may know, bass eats up a lot of watts quickly. NOt to mention that those pa mains may or may not be able to handle amplifying the bass well. Usually running kick and snare (or just kick) thru the pa is enough, and a lot of small/medium sized gigs don't requre that depending upon the drummer. Most guitar amps really don't need additional pa support in these type of venues except maybe to provide additional coverage, however, if your plan is to control the guitar player's volume by having him play quieter and micing him to bring his volume up that's cool. Overall the pa you describe is fine, just don't rely on it to subsitute for a good bass amp.
  17. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    I have the Yamaha EMX5000 and it works fine for a small club. It is 1000 watts, and we run 2 peavey 15 cabs w horns for mains and 2 EV 12' floor monitors. Only vocals, kick and snare go thru the PA. For mid to large clubs we use a sound company with everything in the mix.
  18. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    So you plan on running one amp for the mains and one for the monitors? Check the RMS of the mains. If they are 400 rms speakers then you would be underpowering your speakers. Amp wattage should be 1.5 - 2 times the rms of the speakers. So if your speakers are 400 RMS then you should be sending 600-800 watts into each. But it all depends on what your speakers are rated at. It sounds like to me you should give each main it's own 400 watt amp and get another little amp for your monitors. Let me know what the ratings on your speakers are and we can go from there, or give us some model numbers so we can look them up online.
  19. dougray

    dougray Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2002
    western maryland
    when buying PA equipment, always check local paper,local pawnshops,music stores,ebay,friends,other bands,etc. if you are on a tight budget going new would be last option.
    personally, i would go 3 way mono for front of house,lows/mids/highs.behringer and peavey both have decent PA stuff.no need for crown for starting out.if you are good at woodworking there are many resources on the internet for making monitors,pa cabinets.and to save yourself some headaches talk with your drummer see if he/she would like to go triggers and DM5,etc. it will save on buying gates,etc.as you get into PA equipment its actually just like everything else "its never ending",good-luck! :bassist:
  20. haujobb


    Dec 16, 2004
    I did a gig in a mid sized hall (about 3000 square feet) a few months back and money was tight so all the band loaned their equipment for the PA.

    In the end we had a yorkville M800, Yamaha 1x12 ad Sound Tech 1x10 for the mains. 300 watt Soundtech and a pair of 1x12 monitors.

    Everyone brought mics and cables and stands, so in the end we had a very decent system with 4 vocals mics, 2 guitar mics, a kick mic and an overhead. The sound was by no means great, but at the same time we still got a lil thump from the kick drum and the backline bass amps were more than loud enough to reach the back of the hall.