PA System vs. Amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by dajman1800, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. dajman1800


    Sep 2, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Alright. Here's the deal.
    I recently stumbled apon a used Peavey 2x15 Cab powered by an SWR 2002 200 watt amp. For 400 dollars. Killer deal, no? Tried it out, works great. Went to dad. Got the same argument as always. "Why can't you just play through the school's PA system?" followed by "how do you think big artists play huge stadiums?"

    Good question. I've been thinking about it for a while, and haven't
    found a reasonable answer.

    Bottom line: I'd like someone with a reasonable amount of experience to explain to me why PA is not the only way to go and why the bassist needs an amp too. Thanks in advance.

    A few EDITS:
    -I own a Crate BT-25 practice amp.
    -I know nothing about my school's PA
    -Another reason for my dad shooting down the idea is that the amp is up to my chest, pretty big, and since he's never had anything around the house like this he's hesitant. I could move some old toys and a stereo to the attic, and there'd be more than enough room.
  2. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    Use the argument: "But I need a monitor". And if your school has PA monitors as well, then tell him you want a monitor which you can control.
  3. Good question and an interesting issue. A number of reasons I can think of:

    1) Reproducing the bass frequencies is (IMO) the most difficult thing to do in sound reinforcement... it takes a lot of power and a lot of cone area to move enough air for the audience to feel the bass (which is key in rock/pop/funk/fusion/etc.) music. Many small PA systems just don't have the watts and extended frequency response to adequately do this.

    2) Feeling the low end on stage is key to getting a feel for the instrument and is key for the rest of the band. If you have a great in-ear monitoring system, you are probably OK. However, to reproduce the depth and feel of a relatively large bass rig on stage would take a moniter... as large as a relativley large bass rig!

    3) More with guitar than bass, but the voicing of a bass amp is also an integral component of a good bass sound.... even with modeling hardware, Sansamps, etc.... it doesn't sound like an SVT when you are rocking (it's getting better, though)

    4) Professional bassists are usually somewhat freelancers. While there are some of us that play in bands, most bassists that are making a living at it have to be prepared to play small gigs with no PA, large gigs with PA support.. and unfortunately... very large gigs with no PA support. You can't show up without an amp and hope you'll be covered.

    That all being said, if you are just starting out, playing in a limited situation, and have a PA available that sounds OK.... I can't really spend your dad's money in good conscience at this point :D
  4. Aj*


    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Personally I'd be amazed if your school has a PA that will do good bass. Also, how on earth are you supposed to practice at home with a PA system at school? Also Jazzin makes a good point, remember too that the bass amp is what provides a decent chunk of your tone, it's pretty rare that any artist uses solely the PA system, he will have at least a preamp then the DI. Btw, the old Peavey cabs are great and practically indestructable, get it!
  5. Aj*


    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Bah, KJung posted as I was typing, he got pretty much everything covered somewhat better than I did though, +1.
  6. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Tell about your school's PA, and your playing situation, then we can tell you if playing through it makes sense. ;) Hint: fill out your profile!

    "how do you think big artists play huge stadiums?"

    Most of them use onstage bass amps, plus they go through the PA. They also have a separate monitor mix, and very expensive monitor wedges or in-ear monitors. Maybe big side fill speakers too, in some cases. If your school doesn't offer that, plus an experienced operator for the sound system, you're far better off having some control of your situation yourself. But you might ask your dad what big stadiums have to do with playing at school, eh? :cool:

    One other thing pops to mind though: how are you practicing if you don't own an amp?
  7. I've been accused of being a 'typist' before :D Guilty as charged! :)
  8. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Hey, I started to reply before any of youse guys, and look where my post ended up! :rolleyes:
  9. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    The price seems pretty good. Not a ton of power for that cabinet, but great deal nonetheless.

    When I was a kid and came home with my first real cab- an SVT-2x15 my dad was pretty pissed at having a fridge taking up a bunch of space, so maybe that's one of his concerns. That, and the potential volume you'd be throwing around the house too. Parents are afraid of bass rigs.

    I would never go PA only. I am sure it would be a very humbling experience.
  10. 2x15 is big, you should maybe think of something smaller.

    Maybe a 4x10, 1x15 or 2x12.
  11. dajman1800


    Sep 2, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Yeah, I know the 2x10 is big, but he's selling the head and the cab together, he wants them both gone, so I can't just take the head. Does anyone know what older models of Peavey 215 and SWR 2002 would sell for? (So my dad knows we're getting a good deal here)

    Btw I edited my original post with some stuff you sounded like you wanted to know. Maybe take a look?
    Thanks again
  12. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Practice, man, practice.

    But beyond that you can't practice with a band through the school PA can you? You gonna take the school PA to gigs?And once you do have a band you'll spend the first few years playing crappy clubs and party gigs and they don't have PA either. Even with PA you still need an amp on stage. Period.
  13. KJung covered the topic well. A few extra points:

    You can't depend on the monitor system being able to handle bass, or the operator actually knowing how, or bothering, to let you be heard in the mix. Bass is the first thing to go when the singers say they can't hear.

    You need an amp that can let you keep up with a drum kit. I figure that's as much bass amp as I ever need - if it's a vocal-only PA gig, I'm loud enough; if the drums are miked, then the system is good enough for my bass too.

    The 215 might be scary for your Dad - something like a Nemesis 210 might be less threatening (and will sound nicer). That SWR amp is pretty good - maybe you can buy the rig and trade the cab for something more compact.
  14. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    I'd be inclined to agree with ToneRanger on this one. That's a LOT of cabinet to have to haul around (I'm sure dad's thinking he'll probably end up becoming your roadie). I'd keep an eye out for something a bit more manageable in the size & weight department.

    As far as the P.A. argument goes, several others have already covered it well... To handle bass frequencies adequately you really need some top shelf P.A. equipment (chances are that's not the case in your H.S.). I also doubt they have a monitor system, making it a bit tough for you to hear yourself on stage.

    - Ugly.
  15. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia

    Take it from someone who owns an old peavey 1x15 combo, old peaveys are TREMENDOUSLY heavy, and have crappy handles. and their weight just makes them more of a drag as time goes on.

    But, if that's the tone that you want, then you will simply have to do what the rest of us did and buy a hand-trolley. :cool:
  16. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK

    I used to own an old Yorkville 15 combo, it weighed a ton. When you buy it, you're thinking "This will cover a lot of my needs, so it's a smart purchase." But in the end it's too heavy to move around and you end up keeping it at home. Go small, go light, and you'll use it more.

    Plus... What the heck do you need a 2x15 for anyway? Are you playing large club dates already???
  17. Dirty Dave

    Dirty Dave

    Oct 17, 2004
    Boston, MA
    LOL! I remember those days with my TKO.
  18. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    Another thing to take note of... Based on the birthdate on his profile, dajman1800 would only be about 13 years old. I don't know about the rest of you guys, but when I was that age there was no way I would have been able to lift and move around a cabinet of that size.

    - Ugly.
  19. You need to hear yourself on stage man - explain that to your dad then purposefully mess up when he sees you playing...THEN he can see why you need an amp!

    It terms of amps that are available, if possible get a combo - much easier to move around than a head+cab. If your going to be doing some gigs with it, get one with a decent wattage (we're talking 60-100 watts plus for gigs) - ebay my friend, have a look on there then you can show your dad how small they are (not mentioning that the whole house will vibrate if you play on full volume) - have a look anyway; an amp with a 1x12 or 1x15 speaker should be portable enough for gigs (if its got 100 watts ish of volume)

    Note: If your dad still thinks its too big - next time theres a band on telly show your dad what the bass player is using and go on about how much bigger it is than yours... :cool:
  20. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    I find it hard and i'm 22 and have been lifting weights for 3 years! :meh: ;)