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Should I rely on PA systems?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by CaM90, Jun 19, 2005.

  1. CaM90


    Dec 14, 2004
    Right now I am looking into a new amp (head/cab or combo), but I don't know if I should go for more watts and not care about PA systems or go for a faily nice 200+ combo and then rely on PA systems to get my soudn around for gigs? How much of the time do you have a PA system in small-medium size gig?
  2. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    We have one a lot of the time, but usually I don't plug into it, and neither does the guitarist. Its all for vocals and drums.
  3. seanm

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

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    There was a thread on this. Basically it came down to: some people always have access to great P.A., some people never do, some people are in between.

    If you will always have access to a good P.A., you are lucky. I never do and always carry my full rig. I would love to be able to prefix that with "except if I know they have a great P.A." but so far that has never happened :(
  4. If you're not sure if you'll have access to PA support,
    you should definately get enough power to handle
    the rooms/venues you play/could play in.
    Also you should think about if you will be playing outside
    at all. And probably getting a head/preamp/combo,
    whatever, that has a direct out would be good.
    Then if you go through the PA, you're already set up for it.

    My band always travels with our own PA, and everyone's
    instruments go to FOH along with vocals. I have a rig that
    could easily cut most venues without PA support, but it's
    nice to be able to use it as a stage monitor and let the
    PA do the job (in my opinion) that it is intended to do,
    amplify, and mix the sound of the whole band so that
    the audience gets the best sound possible.
  5. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    with a quality bass and onboard pre, you shouldnt have to worry about much. heck, with my sadowsky, i've done 50% of my gigs, rigless.

    course, it is a sadowsky :p
  6. bstringrandy

    bstringrandy Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Jacksonville, FL
    That is a great question! I have built up quite a collection of stuff over the years chasing the right sound levels. In my current gig, I always run DI into the PA which has a Mackie 800 running monitors, a 1400 for each main and a 2600 running 2 18 subs. For gigging out I have an SVT CL 810 stack, and a 410HLF with a Behringer 3000 head. This weekend, I was at a gig with the 410 rig where the sound guy kept telling me to turn down. Basically it was blowing right past my legs and developing about 15' from the stage. It got bad enough at one point that the sound guy had to take me out of the board altogether and try to turn some other stuff up to match. My stage volume got so low that I couldn't hear myself on stage! He had to put me back into the monitors which sounded awful. However, I did get independent confirmation that I sounded good and was right in the mix out front.

    Anyway, I used this Father's Day to stroke a bout of GAS and picked up a Fender Bassman 150. Now I know that there some great combos out there (Eden, GK, Trace Eliott) and some cost well over $1000. But for less than $500, it's got a sweet tilt-back cabinet, parametric EQ, and all of the DI options, pre/post, gnd lift, and level, that I was looking for. Plus, it only weighs 38 lbs!

    Bottom line, IMHO if you're going into a PA, and it can handle it, then don't kill yourself lugging around a ton of stuff. Having said that, you've got to be able to trust the guy turning the knobs on the board. :)

    If you're not going into a PA all of the time, as said before, then you'll need something more flexible with enough grunt to carry the day.

    It all depends on your PA and its availability.
  7. BigMikeW

    BigMikeW Banned

    May 25, 2005
    Nashville, TN.
    Banned by TB Administration for refusal to account for funds

    Same here. I have a small pedal board setup for Direct/FOH sits.

    I have a tuner, SansAmp prgrammable Bass Driver (three settings saved), Compressor and Radial DI. That's it. Use to have a Sadowsky Pre/DI but now that I have at least one Sadowsy on the way it isn't needed.

    Lugging gear sucks and if you play at clubs with a good size P.A. leave the rig and just use your wedge to fill it out. I use my in ears but that isn't an option for some.
  8. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    bstringrandy - that's interesting. You were developing about 15 feet from yourself, so you didn't hear the same volume that your sound guy heard. I assume your little Fender "develops" sooner, so you can hear it without being too loud? Also, what do you feel is enough power for a PA system to handle running a DI into the board. I just bought a little Carvin "Club Series" PA, which consists of a 12 channel powered mixer (about 300 watts per side + 300 watts for monitors), along with two 3 way speakers w/stands, and 2 monitors. Since we are, and will always be a 3 piece band, I figured 12 channels should be just about right to mic everything, and I am one who would rather have *everything* running through the PA, but I also like the sound of the stage volume, more as a slight compliment to the PA mix for the audience. I also have an SVT410-HLF cab, but I'm only using an Ampeg B2R head. I happen to also have a 100 watt tilt back Ampeg BA115 combo amp. Do you think with my philosophy of wanting everything through the PA (provided what I said about the power is enough) that I would be better off using the BA115 so as not to be too loud?

    Incidentally, I just bought (haven't gotten it yet) a Yamaha SPX2000 effects processor - this thing cost at least half of what my entire PA costs - but I wanted to do everything possible to make sure the instruments (mainly vocals) sounded as good as possible. The Carvin has built in effects, but our singer is...let's say he could use all the help he can get (and he's much better than me).


  9. seanm

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

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Let us know how that works. That sounds like a good system.
  10. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
  11. DaveMcLain


    Jun 19, 2005
    Cuba MO
    In our band we carry our own PA system for many of our gigs esspecially in rural areas. I always run a direct line from my amp to the PA, that way if the soundman needs a little bit he's got it. Often times that's all the bass guitar needs out front, just a little bit in the mix to give it good definition. We've also played lots of gigs where the PA was provided and I think one of the hardest things is when the soundman eq's the sound of the bass to death and many of them over eq everything, needlessly adding low end and other stuff. I've found that giving them a signal off of my preamp that's already "processed" is much more effective than giving them a direct signal from the bass, at least that's been my experience.
  12. bstringrandy

    bstringrandy Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Jacksonville, FL
    Skel -

    As with most things, there are a lot of variables to consider such as the type of music you are playing, the size of the rooms you usually play to and so forth. 300 watts a side and 300 watts for monitors should be enough power to handle everything for a small to medium room playing classic rock or lighter material.

    I'm certainly not a sound guy, but the goal is a "fat" sound. IMO nothing sounds worse that a thin tinny band output. To that end, you may end up needing a sub to get the low end out, especially if you're putting the mains up on stands. If you want to go that route, you could look at adding a powered sub to keep your rig simple.

    My recommendation is to set everything up at a rehearsal with your BA115 going DI to the board and see what happens. If it isn't enough, then you could look at adding a sub or go back to the 410 rig to augment the low end out front although it will take away some flexibility from the sound guy.

    We've found that running it all through the PA works best providing that the person behind the board knows what they're doing and how to get the sound that you want.

    Good luck and let me know how it works out!