Beginner public address

Live sound reinforcement, running PA's and general amplifier/amplification questions and discussion.
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Nickguitar800
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Beginner public address

Post by Nickguitar800 » December 8th, 2014, 11:16 am

Hello, I am in a band and we are starting to play small shows. We have friends that have equipment that we can use but if we start playing more often and I'd like to have our own stuff so that we don't break someone else's equipment by accident. I'd also like to start practicing with a PA for vocals and keyboards. We don't have a very big budget so I want to start putting together a PA one piece at a time. I don't know very much about PA's but is this the equipment that we need to start out: A mixer, power amps, loudspeakers, subs, and either onstage monitors or in ear monitors? I'm thinking about buying a mixer first, I've looked at 12- 14 channel mixers from mackie, alisis, and other "low end," brands. Would this be a good purchase to start building a PA one piece at a time? What would be a good purchase after a mixer?

Diceman
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Re: Beginner public address

Post by Diceman » December 9th, 2014, 8:09 pm

I have owned a PA for many years and started with buying a mixer , equalizer , power amp(s) , huge speaker cabs etc. , etc. If I were to start over , knowing what I know now , I would buy a mixer with enough channels to provide all the inputs that I needed and that contained its own EQ and effects . Then I would buy active speakers , for both monitors and front end . This would be enough for any small show . If in the future I needed more oomph I would add powered subs .
An alternative to this approach (probably cheaper) would be a powered mixer and passive speaker cabs . Try to get a mixer that has a lot of monitor busses so you can have different mixes for the performers on stage .
A third option is a mixture of the two ; a powered mixer that powers the monitors and then active speakers for the front end (run off the mains of the powered mixer) .
Last edited by Diceman on December 9th, 2014, 8:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .

Nickguitar800
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Re: Beginner public address

Post by Nickguitar800 » December 10th, 2014, 10:05 am

Diceman wrote:I have owned a PA for many years and started with buying a mixer , equalizer , power amp(s) , huge speaker cabs etc. , etc. If I were to start over , knowing what I know now , I would buy a mixer with enough channels to provide all the inputs that I needed and that contained its own EQ and effects . Then I would buy active speakers , for both monitors and front end . This would be enough for any small show . If in the future I needed more oomph I would add powered subs .
An alternative to this approach (probably cheaper) would be a powered mixer and passive speaker cabs . Try to get a mixer that has a lot of monitor busses so you can have different mixes for the performers on stage .
A third option is a mixture of the two ; a powered mixer that powers the monitors and then active speakers for the front end (run off the mains of the powered mixer) .
Thanks! For the mixer, how many channels is best to start with for a four piece band? I know that micing guitar amps and drums are usually the best but if we just wanted to start with micing a keyboard, vocals, and maybe bass would it be okay to start with a 8 channel mixer? Also, I know you can rent PAs for most shows, would it be better to go that way instead of spending money on a good system? Alot of these answers are probably hard to answer without knowing much about us but I'd just like to hear what you would do. Thanks for the help!

Diceman
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Re: Beginner public address

Post by Diceman » December 10th, 2014, 9:00 pm

It depends on how many singers and instruments there are in the band . Singers absolutely need a channel to themselves unless they don't sing at the same time or they share a microphone . If there are three or more singers in the band 8 channels wouldn't be enough unless you don't put any microphones on the drums . A drumset can be very well covered with three microphones ; one on the snare , one on the kick and one overhead . If you have three other instruments that makes six total leaving two mics for singers . That's OK if you only have two singers . I would try to get at least a 10 channel mixer and twelve channels can do most every bar band there is . It's not a bad thing to have an extra channel for those moments when you might have guests or , heaven forbid , you have a bad wire somewhere and don't have the time to chase down which channel it is on !
As far as renting goes , I don't know how much you're getting for your band to play but shelling out money for other people's equipment when I could be using it to buy my own never made fiscal sense to me . That's just my two cents worth .
Last edited by Diceman on December 13th, 2014, 1:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .

Nickguitar800
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Re: Beginner public address

Post by Nickguitar800 » December 11th, 2014, 7:14 am

Okay, thanks for the help!

Nickguitar800
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Re: Beginner public address

Post by Nickguitar800 » December 18th, 2014, 3:50 pm

Hello again, I appreciate everyone's help but I have a few more questions about PAs. Like I said we are going to buy one or two pieces at a time until we can afford everything. I am wondering what the pros for unpowered speakers are, it seems like it would be better to buy a mixer then powered speakers and monitors. To me it seems like the only advantage to unpowered speakers is that you don't have to plug everything in. Why would you want to spend extra money to buy a power-amp? Sorry that I don't know much about this, I'm just trying to learn everything from the internet. So would it be better to get unpowered passive speakers instead of powered speakers? By the way, the mixer we're getting is a 12 channel mackie mixer that takes AC power. It says that it will work with both powered and passive speakers; I don't want to get gear that won't work with it or that might ruin it.

Diceman
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Re: Beginner public address

Post by Diceman » December 19th, 2014, 10:53 am

Active speaker positives :
1. Require no external power amp therefore there are fewer cable connections and components between mixer and speaker .
2. New designs are usually very light , which you will appreciate as you get older .
3. There is virtually no signal loss in the balanced cable required to connect the mixer to it , no matter the length . (Very long speaker wires suffer considerable loss of signal.)
4. Easy set-up .
5. Fewer items to carry .

Active speaker negatives :
1. More expensive to buy .
2. More expensive to repair .
3. Requires electrical power cord .
4. Individual components can't easily be swapped / upgraded .

You wrote :
"It says that it will work with both powered and passive speakers; I don't want to get gear that won't work with it or that might ruin it."
Well , this is true with most any mixer . They have outputs that can either go to outboard equipment such as effects processors , equalizers , etc . or to power amps . Powered mixers also have speaker outputs . Just to clarify , when I say powered mixer I mean one that has a power amplifier built into it as one single unit . Unless battery powered , all mixers have power cords .
If you already have or are going to purchase a powered mixer then you should buy passive speakers to utilize the onboard power amp inside the mixer . You can also use the mixer's built in amp to power passive monitors and get active speakers for the mains . Or vice versa .
If I claim to be a wise man , it surely means that I don't know .

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notes_norton
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Re: Beginner public address

Post by notes_norton » December 20th, 2014, 8:27 am

I've used passive speakers for a long, long time.

If I had to do it again, I'd get actives. Why?
1) If my power amp goes out, the gig is gone. If you have active speakers, and one goes, you can limp through the evening on the other
2) The amp eq is probably tuned to the cabinet (if the designers did their job right)

However they do have disadvantages:
1) Power cord
2) Heavier
3) More expensive to repair

Everything includes some kind of trade-off

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Nickguitar800
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Re: Beginner public address

Post by Nickguitar800 » December 21st, 2014, 1:34 pm

Thank you all!

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causnorign
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Re: Beginner public address

Post by causnorign » April 11th, 2017, 6:01 am

This might not be the proper place for this question, I apologize if it isn't. I've been toying with the idea of starting an open mike in the main meeting room of our firehouse. The room is about 30 by 60 feet, carpeted with tables and chairs for furniture. Anybody know what sound equipment would be required? I know there's a PA system, but don't know anything about it. It would be primarily a singer/songwriter acoustic type affair. Anybody running an open mike have any hints.

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