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Thread: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    Good comments: I recommend... ---12 inch speakers (I prefer passive so less to replace if one part of the system tears up)
    --good quality mixing board either with amp or seperate.
    (Crate used to make a good one--I have a tri-power (basically 3-200 watt amps which works well for both mains and monitor mix if needed.
    --I've had good luck with passive Yamaha speakers. Also good power amps but not sure about their mixer/amp combo.
    --be careful with single condenser mics...they can be great but very subseptible to feedback, wind etc and bands need to know how to work around them. Really depends on the venue.
    --be careful how many channels you get with a mixer...most are mislabled (if it says 8 channels, it will often only be 4 or 6 true channels--XLR and the others will be stereo (or 1/4 inch only) so they are limited. Go for at least 6 XLR and ideally 8 or 10 XLR if you can--it's always better to have extra channels down the road. You won't regret it.
    --GET GOOD QUALITY MICROPHONES AND MIC CABLES, SPEAKER CABLES. (Horizon makes good decent priced cables--planet waves makes expensive but excellent mic cables. They will be worth it in the long run.
    --expect to invest a small fortune in a good PA over time, but you can make it back by doing sound for 2 or 3 festivals if you get good at it. They really aren't that many around that know how to run sound effectively. It can make or break any group.

  2. #27
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kotapish View Post
    If you keep it simple enough and understand the limits of your system, you can get great sound from a huge array of approaches and price points. The problems arise when you try to push beyond the limits of the weakest link in your system.
    Possibly the single greatest truth in the world of sound reinforcement, and very well said to boot.
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  3. #28
    Registered User Justus True Waldron's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    another consideration I just thought of - if this is a family band, what is the age range of everybody? Since it sounds like your looking at getting your first PA, I'm thinking younger? If that's the case you probably want the simplest/lightest setup you can afford, as you'll be the one putting it up every time...

    I can't remember if you said, but do you have the condenser you're using for the one mic, or at least have one in mind?

    People will knock the one mic thing and say it's prone to feedback, and yes it can be... but I've seen it used enough in enough different circumstances to be a believer. Buy a foam windscreen if you're outside, should help a little with the wind. Another huge advantage of the one mic thing - which goes back to my first statement - is simplicity. Not only is it light and quick to set up, but by only having one mic instead of many you eliminate any phasing problems and the need for a guy to run the board. Since you're all around surrounding the mic you can hear without monitors, which are another common source of feedback. The biggest issue with the one mic is really people not knowing how to play into one. That family band I mentioned before learned by always practising around a mic stand. I went one step further with my band and plugged the mic into the computer to record... then during practice we'd do a song, listen back and then do it over with whatever changes we needed. You learn really quickly how to listen to everybody else and mix yourself. You also learn real quick to get out of people's way, which is the fun part (and for a lot of family bands I've seen becomes part of the schtick!) It's also really fun to get right up on a kind of high mic, and it looks mighty bluegrass too. The one mic thing needs that, it doesn't work if everyone just gets in a wide circle the same distance away and stay there. That's when you'd have to crank the gain and hop on the feedback express... But I'm sure you know that, I got sidetracked thinking...

    In short - one mic, small mixing board, and powered speaker = simplicity! My rig for small shows right now is just that, with one powered speaker. After several years of playing in a rock band that seemed to think more equipment equates to better (at one point we even had two drummers!) let me tell you, simplicity can't be overrated! It makes playing music out FUN again
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    For what it's worth...
    For the last several years my acoustic band has used the following setup, with outstanding results in everything from coffeehouses to clubs seating over 200 to small outdoor "deck-on-the-river" performances.

    Mains: Yorkville NX35 12" 2-way passive. Very clear and transparent, and voiced just about perfectly for acoustic instruments and vocals. We usually "pole mount" them on the subs, but they can also mount on speaker stands or just sit on a table.
    Subwoofers: Yorkville LS200P powered subs. Very compact and a perfect match for the NX35's. Adds "body and depth".
    Monitors (if needed): again Yorkville NX35's. Keeps the sonic character of what WE hear very close to what the audience hears.
    Mixer: Yorkville M810 powered mixer. 10 usable channels, phantom power for condensers, decent mic pre's for the price.
    Mics: Shure SM58's, SM57's and SM81's on occasion.
    Cables: yep. Lots of 'em!
    Mic stands w/ booms

    The entire system, including a collapsible dolly, a mandolin, acoustic guitar, resonator, gig bag, and small 4-can LED light tree fits in a Toyota Highlander SUV. It takes less than 30 minutes to set up and dial in for the room to sound its' best.

    Before purchasing this system, we auditioned a ton of other gear (Mackie, JBL, Yamaha QSC, Peavey, etc.). For sound quality/clarity, ease of transport/setup, flexibility (can easily use just part of the system for small venues), price and warranty (speakers and mixer are warranted for 2 years unconditionally and 10 years against manufacturing defects), the Yorkville stuff won hands down for us. It's important to audition any equipment you intend to buy, and get the best sounding stuff you can afford - it's not inexpensive, but it's what your audience hears!

    Good luck finding the right system for you!

    Steve

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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    I have a band member who builds custom speakers. When we are not playing venues and festivals where a sound system is provided, our band works with his custom speakers and a very good quality board with analog effects. He has told me many times that for acoustic music, you need three-way speakers. With two-way speakers, you loose a lot of the details of the midrange. Anyone else want to chime in on this?

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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    I'm no speaker expert, but that certainly makes sense, given that acoustic music is very mid heavy. A three-way system gives the mids a dedicated woofer which will keep them from getting muddled with the bass or extreme highs. I don't think you see a lot of three way PAs today, except for the two twelves and a horn configuration JBL and some of the others seem to like. My guess is this is because today a lot of people opt for a pair of small two ways with subs. Personally, I prefer that as well...
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    Quote Originally Posted by cwtwang View Post
    I have a band member who builds custom speakers. When we are not playing venues and festivals where a sound system is provided, our band works with his custom speakers and a very good quality board with analog effects. He has told me many times that for acoustic music, you need three-way speakers. With two-way speakers, you loose a lot of the details of the midrange. Anyone else want to chime in on this?
    I agree! Decent subs to handle low end, and 10" or 12" 2-way mid/high speakers seems to work well in my experience. 15" 2-way systems often have trouble keeping midrange clarity in acoustic music, even when matched with subs, IMHO. I know several manufacturers make self-contained 3-way speakers, but I can't comment on how they might sound reproducing acoustic music (haven't heard enough of this type of PA speaker to evaluate).

  8. #33
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    [seems to me, minus brand touting] a Sub woofer . 1 will handle the lowest.. if there are any.
    8 or 10" + tweeters up on stands . small house , even the surface mount ones
    will do the job, dont need Horn treble drivers , unless the room is bigger patrons further away.
    Last edited by mandroid; May-02-2012 at 4:25pm.
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    For our house concerts I use a A&H Zed10 mixer with Electro-Voice ELX112P powered 12" cabinets. As someone else mentioned. Don't skimp on cables. I use Mogami only.

  10. #35
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    for acoustic music, you need three-way speakers. With two-way speakers, you loose a lot of the details of the midrange
    Like everything, it's relative. And I'm sure to shoot myself in the proverbial foot here quick where there is so much more expertise than my meager experience. Oh well, here goes what I know....

    You can gain clarity with a dedicated mid, but there is no free lunch. You also can introduce phase probs, peaks and valley's because of another 2 crossover points. So you can end up doing more sonic damage if you don't throw a lot of $$$ at it. Not to mention you need in the case of modern powered speakers, another crossover, amp, and usually some kind of baffling for the mid. So you are adding weight in speaker, crossover and cabinet. Us roady-less musicians nemesis.

    If I was going to go ultimate hi fi, I'd go with a quality woofer, and one, or possibly two of my ESS tweeters per cabinet. Their crossover point is around 1100hz. and go all the way to 22,000Khz. They are efficient, a great two way solution with great dispersion and need no isolating cabinetry. But they are heavy, and expensive.

    It's a lot easier to just use a good quality 12" and horn in a powered cab. I still like my SRM 450's. And if you notice, they are THE most popular speaker, and you see very few for sale. In my experience, when you see a lot of anything on the used market, there is usually a reason. And it's not necessarily that there was just a lot of them made. Usually, it's because most people are getting rid of whatever it is to get something good.

  11. #36
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    Quote Originally Posted by cwtwang View Post
    I have a band member who builds custom speakers. When we are not playing venues and festivals where a sound system is provided, our band works with his custom speakers and a very good quality board with analog effects. He has told me many times that for acoustic music, you need three-way speakers. With two-way speakers, you loose a lot of the details of the midrange. Anyone else want to chime in on this?
    The following is personal opinion, but it's backed by experience with a lot of gear over the years.

    Your band member's perspective on speakers was a reasonable take on acoustic music reproduction 10 or 15 years ago. It's a different world now. Do-it-yourselfer's making passive speakers can't compete with bi-amped systems where the internal amps are designed from scratch to match the drivers (and vice-versa), and the signal is digitized for crossover and EQ before it hits the drivers. Just the bi-amping alone is a major improvement, because it keeps the low driver from sucking all the juice.

    The big argument with acoustic music used to be that you wanted a cone speaker to handle the critical midrange, and not that "nasty horn" HF driver... hence, 3-way systems. That's pretty much out the window now, because in the better powered speaker systems (not the cheap stuff), the HF driver is a healthy 1.75" or 2" diameter compression driver, not some nasty piezo tweeter.

    Looking at the size and type of HF driver is one way you can judge the quality of a powered 2-way speaker system. My QSC K10's use 1.75" drivers and they sound pretty good to my ears. The really expensive, pro-grade stuff like Meyer UPA-1P 12" speakers use a 3" compression driver for the high mids and highs. This is not your father's horn speaker.


    Speaking of horns, another thing to consider is dispersion, It does no good to deliver a high-quality home stereo sound to only a few people sitting directly in front of the speaker, and that's the problem with a cone speaker used for mid-range. The fall-off is rapid to the sides, and you can't control the vertical angle where you might want to keep it from reflecting off the ceiling. If you have the high mids running through a waveguide (horn), you can get much more even horizontal spread, and you can control how much of that sound bounces off the ceiling by narrowing the vertical angle.

    I'm not saying 3-way systems are worthless. I've played in a local folk club that uses big powered Mackie 3-ways, and they're not bad (although I think they could do a better job with 12's and some subs). But especially if we're talking passive 3-way speakers, that's really old-school tech at this point. It may sound good, but you can probably do better. And with a lot less size and weight.

  12. #37
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    OP already running off the tip jar,
    and having a band mate with the tools, and so,

    not having a lot of $
    here is a plate amp to put in the back of a home built PA speaker..

    http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=300-797

    to create a powered speaker.. speakers http://www.parts-express.com/speakers.cfm


    or a passive , this is crossovers for those http://www.parts-express.com/wizards...TOKEN=58900416
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  13. #38
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    Quote Originally Posted by cwtwang View Post
    I have a band member who builds custom speakers. When we are not playing venues and festivals where a sound system is provided, our band works with his custom speakers and a very good quality board with analog effects. He has told me many times that for acoustic music, you need three-way speakers. With two-way speakers, you loose a lot of the details of the midrange. Anyone else want to chime in on this?
    I have to say I simply disagree with that.

    I can see where this comes from... and there was a time (as Foldedpath says) in the days of passive crossovers and less-well designed units, when many felt this was so. They had a point, because many of the two-driver cabs and systems were pretty lacking.

    However. Things have moved on an awful long way. Now, you have extremely good bi-amping systems with very good electronic crossovers and very, very sophisticated driver and cabinet designs using all kinds of computer testing and modelling. Back then too, a lot of the cabinets were very basic, with blockboard, ply and chipboard... now, very acoustically inert plastics are employed that kill the problem of unwanted cabinet resonances. In short, really good modern 2-way speakers (I am not talking about el-cheapo, no-name stuff or bargain basement brands) have extremely flat and accurate full range delivery. It was also common years ago (I know 'cause I was there!) to use 3-way passive monitors in the studio... you don't often see that so often either, now as the modern integrated 2-way bi-amped designs from Dynaudio, Adam, Mackie, Genelec and the like tend to dominate, and if any of those "lose detail in the midrange" I can't hear it....

    Same with PA. For myself, I play exclusively acoustic music and have never once felt the "need" for 3-way speakers. Two exceptions.... really huge festival rigs being one. Other factors are involved there, though. It is less a question of "accuracy" more of dispersion, efficient use of power amps, and such-like. None of those systems are incredibly "accurate", but they do get everyone heard reasonably well across the other end of a football stadium. The other case would be where you are dealing with rock music, rap or dance music that has a really heavy bass content. There, there are good reasons to use subs (typically 15" or 18" drivers in tuned enclosures) added onto a regular 2-way system. That's not for midrange, though - that's to stop your normal drivers self-destructing....
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    Registered User Terry Allan Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    Quote Originally Posted by mommythrice View Post
    We're just now needing our own PA. I have found a this used: Yamaha mixer EMX512SC with two Yamaha BR-15's. Will this work? I need something simple (ie. idiot-proof). We like to use a single mic AT2050 with maybe a Shure 58 off to the side for instrument leads and another one dropped into the bass tailpiece. I have the mics already. We've watched friends play with a similar set-up (but I have no idea of the brands or models) and it sounded great. They did use a separate bass amp, but I don't know why. I went to Guitar Center awhile back to get some ideas, and they only want to sell powered speakers, but I can't find any BG bands around here that use them. They all use passive. So, will that work to get us started? Do I need a bass amp? Anything else I'm not thinking of?
    Two good rules of thumb... (1) You can never have too many channels (inputs)...you'll sound best with each voice and each instrument having it's own channel...four pickers who also sing = 8 channels needed...5 pickers who also sing = 10 channels

    (2) You can never have too much power (watts)...I have 1000 watts available in my system, and, while we rarely use more than 20-30% of the available wattage, having that much in reserve means greater headroom or cleaner (undistorted) sound.

    And power isn't all that expensive these days.

    As for speakers, I use 12" 2-ways, but there's nothing wrong w/ 3-way, if you like that sound better.

  15. #40
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    There's no doubt we all have a ton of combined experience here, and some of us have different needs than others, so maybe it's time to have a separate posting somewhere in the cafe of some "dream systems" at different price points and for some of the different uses; i.e. in-place permanent, small touring band, large touring band, etc. I could certainly list my favorite set-ups and know that the sound would rival anyone's, anywhere. But then, I have a permanent set-up in a room I've been working in for 20 years. Moving from space to space every night is completely different. One thing I know for sure is that what may work one night in one place won't work in another place the next night, and usually it's due to the proximity of the main speakers to the stage, with the size of the room adding either relief or difficulties.

    The key word: FLEXIBILITY

    So, in my experience working with touring pros, I've seen one thing the very best all have in common, and that's uncomplaining adaptability. While they may prefer one thing or another, if the situation demands something different due to venue shape or size, or a technical issue that just pops up (we've had player's guitar pickups drop into the body of the guitar mid-solo, a victim of travel-induced vibration and loosening), they just shrug it off as life on the road and figure it out. So, my advice to anyone starting out touring is to actually rehearse with different set-ups. A band should be able to play with and without monitors. Sure, they're great, but; loud monitors and small venues equal junk sound, no way around it. You can't have mains speakers firing one micro-second, and reflected sound from monitors hitting an instant later, along with the arrival of the unamplified acoustic instrument not sounding muddy. The physical timing of sound waves hitting the ears is the biggest single problem speaker manufacturers and acoustic engineers have. You can try the in-ear thing, most folks I know who have tried them have junked them, but it's all personal preference.

    The other thing that ANY and EVERY musician asking to be paid should be able to do is perform using either condenser microphones if desired, and also good old sm58's or 57's. Most headliners have no problem if you stick 58's in front of them, as they know the sound is reliable, and many now request them. If a venue shape/stage size/whatever allows you to use your single mic large diaphragm layout, then great, go for it. But don't get stuck on it as sometimes it's just not going to work. I've helped out at too many shows around the area where some relative newbie's idea of "artistic integrity" violated simple laws of physics. And, the most important thing of all to remember is that you can't beat physics. EVER.

    This goes for quality of equipment as well. There's a reason the better equipment costs more. It has better pre-amps, or electronics, or drivers, or heavier connectors, or whatever. It's quieter. It sounds better. So, no matter what level you're striving to get to, just get the best you can afford. Go used if necessary, but don;t ever think that cobbing together a bunch of separate pre-amps, phantom-power add-ons, pedals, whatever, is going to sound as good as one cable direct into a a great mixing board.

    After all that, it's easy math. Thousands of hours of rehearsal time under different conditions plus the best equipment money can buy plus a flexible, relaxed attitude equals the slimmest of chances that you'll make enough money to buy the big house you've always dreamed about. Good thing it's fun.

  16. #41
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlieshafer View Post
    I've helped out at too many shows around the area where some relative newbie's idea of "artistic integrity" violated simple laws of physics. And, the most important thing of all to remember is that you can't beat physics. EVER.
    Ah, yes... "Artistes" who think they can defy the laws of physics. Not a happy combination in my experience, either!

    What you say about flexibility and practicality is spot on. There is a really good female vocalist around here, who mostly plays small venues with just an acoustic guitar. She took advice from some guys in a hard rock outfit though, when buying her PA, and ended up with this massive pair of Behringer active 400W 15" cabinets... total and utter overkill, does not suit the venues she plays, and the quality is not great, either. She would have been fine with a good acoustic amp + mic, or something like a Yahama Stagepass... it is all about context. What suits AC/DC is not going to make a string quartet happy.
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  17. #42
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    Mommythrice,

    As you no doubt can tell, your question is being answered by folks with years of hard-won experience and the thread is getting somewhat intense technically. But that's because you can fill a small library with all the books ever written on sound reinforcement and system design. Don't let all this overwhelm you. Every single one of us started out where you are: starring hopelessly at a bewildering box full of knobs and switches.

    I'm going to go back and say again that I think the best thing you could do is to get your friends to let you use their PA (the one you like) and get first-hand experience. Just carrying all the stuff into the venue is an education in itself! Ask them to come a long with you and buy them dinner and drinks. It's the cheapest tuition you'll ever pay.

    You will have the screaming howl of feedback. You will have muddy, unbalanced sound. You will tear your hair out figuring what's gone wrong. You have to. We all do. But it passes faster than you can imagine. A year from now you'll be a gear head.

    In the very beginning there are three things:

    Learn to adjust the system so that when you talk into a microphone it sounds like you. (If you sound like you, your mandolin will sound like a mandolin.)

    Learn to get it a little louder than you need without howling feedback. (You'll never stop doing that, but you'll get really good at it.)

    Don't make it so difficult that you never want to do it again.

    If you can do that, you're well on your way. You'll learn to make it better and better with time, but you'll be off to a better start than most.
    Last edited by Tim2723; May-04-2012 at 6:10am.
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  18. #43
    Registered User mommythrice's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim2723 View Post
    Every single one of us started out where you are: starring hopelessly at a bewildering box full of knobs and switches.
    Yep. That's how I feel. Thanks for all the great advice. And I have gone back to the friend with the sound system & he's been a big help, too.

    We played last week with a terrible house system. No soundman. After a break, about half-way through the first song, came the howling feedback. It took me less than a second to look over and see that someone had turned the speakers part-way in during the break. At least I'm learning.

  19. #44
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    Default Re: Ready to take the plunge on a PA - will this work?

    See? You're on your way to gear-head status already!

    Tip: Get a couple of small rubber wedges (I think they're called window lock wedges) and cram them in the space between the tripod stand and the socket in the speaker cabinet. It will prevent the speakers from rotating (accidentally or otherwise).
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