what if i just played through a PA

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by sampsonite, Mar 18, 2001.

  1. sampsonite


    Aug 27, 2000
    I need a new bass amp for my band and i don't really have the cash for it right now. but my band is buying a new PA system and i don't know which one yet but we are going to. my question is would it sound the same if i just played through the PA or would i need to go by an amp? what are the pros and cons of doing it through a PA as opposed to an amp?
  2. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    Here's one man's opinion. I have gone direct, and the advantage is that the sound person can get a good mix, with good balance, etc. The disadvantage, IME, is that it's sometimes hard to get a good monitor mix, and if you can't hear yourself, you're kinda hurtin'. I use a small to medium sized amp as a monitor, and run the line out to the house, when I can. For what I do, that has been ideal.
  3. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    As long as you play in the rehearsal room this may work fine, even without monitors (for me it did, with a not too loud band)

    But if you play live, you will need a very good monitor system or an amp. But the usual monitors for small to medium size PA's do not like to see too much bass, so an amp is better IMHO.

    If you want to play bass seriously, you will sooner or later need an amp anyway - without it will always be a compromise in some way. But that's just my opinion.

  4. if YOU don't have an amp and your band hasn't gotten a PA YET, then what do you do at practice?

    i don't think you need that big of an amp if you're gonna have a PA. my band has a PA system and i use my Peavey as a monitor. the Peavey's only 130w and it sounds/works fine.
  5. When I sent my Aguilar to get re-tubed I played several shows without an amp. As far as the pros and cons I can echo what the previous posts read but One thing that they didn't mention is the fact if you have a crappy bass there isn't going to be anything to color your sound for the better. When you have an amp there is hope, albeit not a lot, for you to get a better sound than you might get going to a DI only.
  6. Yes, you can get away with going through the PA, but have a DI box and a reasonable EQ pedal to give SOME shape to the sound. PA mixers are rarely subtle enough to bring out a bass's strength.

    I have just got a Sadowsky DI box. Before that I was using a Boss DI and GEB7 pedal when going direct.

    IMHO Piezo pickups sound BETTER direct.
  7. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    There's a guy locally that does this. Part of the trick is to make sure the PA is strong enough to do this. If you're buying something designed to handle primarily vocals in small clubs, you could have problems - kinda like a combo PA! You can get a good sound, but you'll probably want a stage monitor of some sort. Either you'll be sharing monitor signals with the vocals, or you'll need to figure out a separate send for you. If you have a cabinet, that might work, but don't forget that you'll need enough power amps on the PA to cover all the needs.
  8. rmp5s


    May 19, 2000
    I have played through a P.A. at practice and at gigs, and I've played through my amp at practice at practice and at gigs. I prefer to have my cake and eat it too. I play through the amp on stage AND have a DI going to the house. I go post EQ so it colors the house sound and I have my Peavy 410 on stage shaking the floor. The other guys like the amp on stage for monitoring, but I don't even use a monitor. I never go through the P.A. at practice because it's too small to have a bass, blaring guitar, and screaming vocals all being blasted from it at a volume loud enough to be heard over the drums. I don't even go through the P.A. at all in practice.
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    For your sake, I hope Slightly isn't correctly assessing your situation. If so, get an amp or rent one on a long term plan, (which may cost almost as much as making purchase payments).

    Unless you have a higher end PA, odds are your sound will suffer more than anyone else's in your band, (unless you have a synthesist). Lower to mid range PA's are designed, by my experience, to handle vocals and acoustic instruments, thereby, emphasizing the Hz ranges the bass doesn't need.

    An affordable amp or a rented/borrowed amp that is also going through the PA would be my advice, assuming the amp would be a lower end amp.
  10. and I play a "soft" 400-seat theater every week with a pretty loud band, and a very loud drummer....

    I use a Sansamp Bass Driver DI with an EQ pedal in front of it to add some mids. The balanced XLR out goes to the board (PA). The other affected signal (1/4") from the Sansamp goes to my (actually, the church's) 200-watt combo amp, which I use for stage volume only. Yes, it's very sufficient. The PA has 2 huge subs in addition to the mains, so bass frequencies are not a problem in the audience. What's great about using the Sansamp is that I can adjust my stage volume by changing the volume on my amp, and the "PA" volume is unchanged, so the sound guy doesn't get upset. (plus, by changing the "level" on the Sansamp, I can turn myself up through the PA, tee-hee!).

    It's a great set-up and I don't have to spend $1000+ on a monstrous bass rig.

    And the Sansamp gives me sounds undistinguishable from a tube amp as long as I have the EQ - the Sansamp does eat up the mids alot, regardless of what Tech21 says).

  11. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Well, here's my answer from a sound guy's point of view (that's what I do for a living)

    I won't lie, an amp really helps, and because of this: If your guitarist has an amp, you're already at a disadvantage. No offense, but I don't think you're playing arenas yet, (which 80% of the sound is the house) and amps make a HUGE difference in club situations. The simple fact is, there's nothing backing you. The normal thing to do is have a signal going from your amp to the house, be it putting a mic in front of your amp or a DI box, and then letting your amp do the rest. If you are going through the PA only, you'll have no "balls" to your sound. Yes, the tone will be good, but without the extra volume produced by the amp, you'll be drowned out by the guitarist if he has an amp. On a similar note, we just had a band that showed up with their guitars and said "Don't worry, we can go through the house." All I could do was shake my head and do the best I could with what I had. I DIed (is that a verb?) both the guitar and the bass, and miced the drum kit, and, to be honest, they sounded like sh*t. Of course, most of that is because they practiced like twice, had horrible instruments that they obviously didn't care for, and were concentrating more on jumping up and down than playing the right notes. I did what I could with the limited EQ I had my mixer, but I can only do so much with a signal. If going to the PA is your only option, definitely do it. But from my point of view, the best mix is with both amplifiers and the PA producing sound for every instrument.

    Don't get discouraged and start worrying that you need an amp. You don't. You can go through the PA and it will work out. All I'm saying is that it IS preferable to have an amp. Not only does it give you more ability to shape your signal before it gets amplified, but a decently sized amp will produce a good deal of the actual sound the audience hears.
  12. rayzak


    Jan 13, 2001
    Louisville, KY
    Hey SuperDuck!!! Since you're a "sound guy" i've got a question for ya that i've been trying to ask around here. I want to get an swr bass 350 but am worried that I won't get enough volume at larger venues (mainly outdoors). My band does have a PA and I would be going through it. Would the 350 be plenty loud for basically on-stage monitoring, or should I fork the extra cash (which I don't have yet) on the bass 750? I hate to change the subject of this interesting topic, but I REALLY want to know.
  13. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Now, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the SWR 350 is 350 watts (you never know, sometimes they don't add up). In this case, you should be ok, for on-stage monitoring. Outdoor concerts generally have massive PAs set up. (at least the ones I've worked for) There was a Beatles tribute band that played at a festival I worked last year, and they were all playing through Vox combos, which were miked and sent to the PA. They were plenty loud, and this was for thousands of people! I'm sure you'll be just fine, assuming the PA itself is loud enough for whatever size crowd your playing.
  14. sampsonite


    Aug 27, 2000
    ok superduck another question for you....i take it i need a amp and a PA to get the best sound but what kinda wattage do i need for the amp? i mean i know it depends on what kinda PA i got but what would you say the most cost effective way to get the best sound for outdoors or indoors. oh FYI i do have a amp right now but it royally sux because it is only 15 watts. i know i need a new one that is why i am asking for some opinions.
  15. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Well, it really depends on a lot of variables. The venue, the size of your PA (as you mentioned), and how much you can actually afford. The most logical answer is get as loud as possible, because you can always turn it down. However, because of monetary constraints and the fact that really large amps are... really large, most of us don't have huge amps. You don't really need to go overboard with wattage, especially if you're just playing in a club. Some kind of mid to large combo will do the trick just fine, generally. 100-150 watts and up is a good place to start for an upgrade amp from 15 watts. Any smaller, and you'll be wasting your money, as you'll want to upgrade again. Save up for a good amp. If you're even more adventurous, a 2x10, 4x10, or 1x15 with a decent head will work well, and both ends are upgradeable one at a time (kinda). Hartke makes good, cheap amp heads, as well as cabs, but you also may want to check Carvin. Carvin also has some nice combo amps, for very cheap, and if it's Carvin it's pretty high quality. You don't need a 1400 watt amp (can we say overkill?), I really don't see why they go above 300 anyway. But that's just me. I myself am playing through a 130 watt combo and it does what I need it to do very well, in conjunction with our PA.