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W/ NO DI From Bass, Smaller PA OK?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by SurferJoe46, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. If you aren't carrying the bass on the PA, can the PA head be smaller than a zillion Watts?

    I figure that bass freqs require a lot of power to dispense and just voice and maybe a few guitar licks won't run a PA very hard.

    If so, then these mega-Watt PA amps aren't all that necessary if the bass itself is running all the power and speaker area it needs to sound-soak the arena - right?
  2. nsmar4211


    Nov 11, 2007
    Ours is 600 watts, 300 per side. We just run vocals and a hint of guitar through it :). We have powered subs if we want to blow up the room :)
  3. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    Certainly do-able, but you need to use a little caution and have somebody make sure that your overall sound is balancing well in the room. My crew usually runs only the vocals and perhaps a little guitar sound (oh, and a little kick drum, too) through a small PA that's run by a Mackie 808S.

    It runs in the neighborhood of 400 watts per channel at 4 ohms - one channel pushes the little JBL's that point toward the room and the other runs a pair of monitors (no subs). With a pair of 2x10 cabs and more power than I need in my rig, I can get my sound out there just fine, but the whole sha-bang goes a lot easier when we play a joint with a full system and a soundman.

    The biggest problem is keeping our guitar heroes on a leash so they don't try and drown everything. They both use an active monitor of their own now so that each can hear the other guy's sound and it's actually helped them to keep their volume more under control.
  4. The playing 'a room' isn't something we do typically; we play large outdoor gigs in pastures and open fields, sometimes with a large barn or outbuilding to give us a back wall.

    I've been taking a crash course in PAs and amps and so far we are getting a good mix - and we use several PAs but no DI system or in-house system. We don't even have an 'in-house' situation almost 100% of the time.

    What we find is that for our playing at BBQs and pasture parties is that with all the different PAs running and then the instrument combos and heads/stacks, that we sound pretty good in a 360º arena - kinda 'theater-in-the-round' if you follow me here.

    We also notice that some of the older people who don't like a guitar screaming at them with distortion and wah, can just move a few feet left or right and get out of the direct blast of our Vai wannabe.

    It's working pretty good for us right now - it may change, but success is success after all.
  5. mcapote


    Sep 9, 2009
    Miami Florida
    for outdoors? quick answer, probably not. I have yet to see an outdoor event with less than 2000 watts with mains and subs and that was a pretty close up outdoor event, park events easily will double that. you will probably need to mic up the drums too which require the subs
  6. Well - I'm kicking 600 Watts from an 8-10 and a 4-10 and a combo 2-10 - so that's a 14-10 to move a lot of air.

    The lead g-guy is using a 140 Watt Fender 2-12 with a 2-12 side cab.

    The #2 g-guy is on my 120 Watt Crate half-stack with 4-12s.

    That leaves my wife with 100 Watts per channel for herself into a 1-15 and 2/1-10+ horn satellites and that's in stereo so it's more like 266 Watts for a ballpark figure.

    The other vocalist is on a 300 Watt PA and 2 1-12+ horn with the keyboard and another part-time mike for her husband to fill the male vocals.

    At peak, that might get us to 1400 combined Watts, but that's not really a practical figure as you yourself well know.

    The drummer so far is running naked - well, the drums are anyway. He has really big sticks and bullet-proof skins though.

    Still I think we fill the air pretty good for a BBQ/Pasture Party group.

    You're right though - we will eventually need to go B I G PA. I think my bass rig can pretty much stand alone for a while yet.
  7. If what you're doing is working then stick with it.

    If not, I don't necessarily think you need a HUGE PA, but you might benefit from a more unified sound setup. I'd suggest something in the neighborhood of at least 300 watts per channel to start. Run one channel for mains and one for monitors.

    What is your wife playing through the 100 watts per channel setup you mention? Is she singing?

    Personally, I'd leave at least half the bass and guitar rigs you describe at home. I prefer a smaller stage rig and then run a little bass through the PA if I absolutely need it.

    But to each his own and YMMV of course.
  8. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I've done a lot of private functions, many outside. I think it's real important to understand why you're there... those folks who want to listen where it's loud, move in, those folks who don't migrate back to their comfort zone. My thought is that you have to bite off that playing outside isn't going to have the same level of 'gut' impact to the gut that you get in a medium sized room.

    So my suggestion is that do what your system can and trust that the folks listening will give you good feed back on whether or not you're too loud, not loud enough. We ask that question pretty often. We aso attempt to get a sense of what's working for the attendees musically and what isn't and aren't afraid to change it up if necessary.

    In my neck of the woods these are by far the bast paying gig's on the calendar so we bend over backwards to make sure that folks are enjoying themselves... band members included. We all enjoy a good kicked back BBQ & brew on a nice pay day. So we'll work hard to make all that happen...

    and for the more technical answer. I don't put my bass through the PA at those things. We may put guitars in for a bit more spread but as you read above, we are trying not to take anyone's head off. The level of volume isn't really going to change how I approach the bass line to the typical party song ya know ?
  9. My wife is singing and she has a stereo/dual mic setup and I get her about 100 Watts per channel so she's OK with that.

    What started as a good idea has really turned out to be just that. The Peavey PA has 4-channels at about 100 Watts each (1-clean, 3-reverb, adjustable and foot-switchable) - but I use a 115 in the cab and then 2 Kustoms w/1-10+ Horn on 5-foot poles and she has the stereo fed into them and then I can give her another channel with the 115 for a lot more push if she needs it.

    That Peavey originally had a 112 and I got the 15 into it at a slant, so it almost fires at a 45º angle/diagonally inside the cab, toward the ground and it really fills her voice out greatly. I'd love to find the matching cab to it though someday!

    Yeah - it's great to play for people who feed and beer-us!

    We never charge for the music and that's the way we like it. These are selectively all our friends and they wait for us to announce the next get-together or form one themselves. In June, we have a big shindig here in my back yard.
  10. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Well maybe if you start playing for money you could get a real PA instead of a bunch of mismatched gear that you threw together. :(
  11. mcapote


    Sep 9, 2009
    Miami Florida
    hahaha, I thought the same thing to be honest. my question is though if what the op has works for him, why start a thread about it? that seems to be what I got out of it.
  12. Been there - done it - out of that loop now and retired.

    I'm not buying gear to satisfy your image and ego. It works - we get it done and we each have our own gear.

    If that's too hard to understand - just remember that the fruits of labor are not necessarily how many toys you have at the end of the day.

    Primarily, each one of us can go our separate ways and have enough support system to be able to make a living if we had to again, but we don't have to - we're all retired and made our fortunes, bought great big chunks of property and land years ago and sit back on SS while you are still paying into the system to support us. We get the last laugh.

    We enjoy our music, are not under the gun of monetary restraints and can actually say that making music with friends in clean air and sunshine is always better than sitting in a smoky bar, trying to not breathe in the 'ambiance' or put up with the occasional drunken patron.

    I worked some nasty topless bars where just a few times I DID use my bass as a primary defensive weapon; be it 'gentlemen's key-clubs', 'private bistros' and such, and quite frankly you can have it. I earned my stripes.

    I made my mark in the music world - so don't tell me that I'm any sort of rag-tag with mismatched equipment. It may be old like I am, but it makes me happy at the end of the day to say I did it my way.

    What mistake I made was asking for a tip or two on placement of gear, speakers and mixing sounds - all valid questions and not needing snooty remarks from the children's gallery.

    PS: Keep paying into that Social Security deduction - I like the monthly check.
  13. mcapote


    Sep 9, 2009
    Miami Florida
    hmm last I checked your question was
    its simple, you dont like the answer move on, your the one acting like a child with your rant and asinine social security remarks. I was being honest in my answer what you have wont cut it in 99% of the outdoor events imo. you would need to upgrade, and if you are gonna upgrade the common sense thing would be to buy a higher wattage XTI (DSP options)or PLC (with crossovers, eq, etc) amp and run off of it. I don't beleive anyone called you ragtag, you brought that one down on yourself, but your equipment is not optimum based on your goals. Obviously if you really believed that hard in your equipment you wouldn't of posed the question in the first place. Anyways at thew end of the day its the internet and obviously age has nothing to do with maturity based on your last post, so enjoy your internet agrument ;) they always go the way you want :crying:
  14. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    In my experience bands that play for free do so because they can't get paid. Of course if you tried to get a paying job where I live using that pile of junk PA of yours no one would hire you. Just sayin.
  15. That's honest and appreciated. TY.
  16. 4Mal is a very WISE man! That has long been my position on performing inside or outside.

    There are basically 3 or 4 groups or types of people at a gig...

    Those who want to sit close to the band and feel their hair blow back from the sound waves...they whoop, hollar and party hardy.

    There are those who came to meet the opposite sex. See, be seen. Meat market kind of folks.

    There are those who just want to socialize with their friends. They tend to sit "in the back" or on the edges...they would prefer you turn down a little so they can carry on their conversations as they get caught up on the gossip...they also tend to play pool, darts, etc...at street festivals, these are the people who bring their kids and let them run wild while they sip a cool one.

    And of course...there are the "other musicians" who think you suck and they could do a much better job. (I would be in one of the last two groups depending on my mood.)

    As many others have said...If YOU like what you are doing...and if the people who "hire" you like what you are doing...and if it "works" and it "ain't broke"....then don't fix it.

    Would "I" do something different...well, that would be an opinion and opinions are just like Mother In Laws....ifn ya'll knowd whut Ah mean...ya knowd?
  17. Yeah - I recognize the situation.

    We keep getting called back and even have expanded a little - but we are selective and refuse to do weddings, funerals (with all those 10-inchers?) and old soldiers' homes.

    These are basically closer than average friends who like a little mic time themselves and since there's no karaoke in town - we're it. The really fun part is trying to fake a song or two that no-one has ever heard before.

    It's just a bunch of guys and we get our kicks out of it - so that's all it is. We don't need to look like K.I.S.S or The Stones, although there's a certain amount of relief in not looking like Mick or Charlie!

    Nobody works for a living and it is a rather unique group for sure.

    We drink your beer and eat your steaks for fun in the sun - or your barn - or your pasture - or your open field.

    I was just interested in picking thoughts about sound and it's propagation - not to be insulted and told that it's all wrong.

    Thank you for the info - I really consider it a value.
  18. Medford Bassman

    Medford Bassman Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Medford, Wisconsin
    We started on a small PA where bass was never sent thru the PA. Then we got a very knowledgeable soundman/drummer who helped us set up a small rack of equipment, speakers and subs. Everything goes into the PA now. We can get a very even mix across the board.
    Depending on the room or outdoors, we simply adjust the main level for volume control.

    FYI, used gear is the way to go. 90% of our gear is used and it really wasn't that pricey.
  19. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
  20. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Having a decent small sized PA doesn't have to be an ego stroke. It's about having the proper gear for the gig. You'd work fine with something like a nice set of 12's with horns on stands if you're not pushing a lot of lows. We have a few different small PA heads, my current one is 1000w stereo, which can be split to run L/R out front or use it to run 500w out front plush 500w for monitors. It carries over my shoulder and is quick to set up.

    Part of using a PA for vocal and limited instruments is knowing the limits of what you can and should do. The first thing I do with any small set up like this is pull all the lows off the vocals...and amazingly everyone in the crowd says they love how clear and clean it sounds out front. Boomy swampy vocals are usually the standard with those kind of systems.

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