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  1. #1
    Eruption cam-5150's Avatar
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    10.20.14 @ 09:09 AM
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    Help buying a PA system!

    Ok, so here's the deal. I'm a guitarist who's currently jamming with a bass player and a drummer. We're pretty tight together as a three piece, and we have a potential vocalist lined up. Eventually, we're going to want to play out live, most likely in outdoor festival type venues. But, I'm clueless as to what type of PA we'll need to get. I already have a mixer. It's a Peavey 800 Stereo mixer that my Dad picked up for me at a flea market somewhere. The guy that he got it from used it in a church.

    Now, I've never played out live before in my life. I know absolutely nothing about what type of speakers/mics we'll need to buy to work with this mixer and our amplifiers. I'm playing through a Line 6 Flextone II 60W combo and my bassist is playing through a Fender 60W combo. I'm sure we'd have to mic his bass amp, but I've been told that I don't need to mic my Line 6. They say that I can run a cable to the phones-out and that way I'll be able to get the cabinet simulation that my amp features. Would I even need to mic the drums? Because I've been told that miking a kick drum requires A LOT of power.

    I'd appreciate ANY help or advice that anyone would be able to give me. Forgive me if I'm not clear with some things, but I'm a total beginner at all this. The only thing I know is how to play guitar!

  2. #2
    Top Of The World MackieMan's Avatar
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    05.31.12 @ 11:07 AM
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    This is what I do for a living - application support for loudspeaker manufacturer by day, audio engineer the rest of the time. Feel free to PM me and I will be more than happy to give you some advice on what would work best for your application and budget.

  3. #3
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    There are probably 100 ways to gig live with a PA, so I'll just give you one way to go about it.

    For most bands in your situation, a run of the mill 8 input (6 XLR) input PA with a couple hundred watts of power amplifier under the hood and a pair of 12" or 15" woofer based PA speakers will do the job well. If you already have a mixer that works well and has enough inputs, you'd need a good power amp (check out Crown, Yamaha, power amps - there's more brands too) and a set of speakers with stands. Personally, I prefer 15" woofers on the PA speakers because then a dedicated subwoofer isn't a necessity if you can't afford it.

    Your Line6 amp probably has a line out or XLR output which has all the cabinet emulation on the signal, so for your guitar sound ... just grab it from that output (mono is fine)

    The drummer, most likely, will not need to be miked at all. If you play a few gigs and get some feedback from audience members that the drums were weak, 2 overhead SM57 microphones will be ALL you'd need to fill in.

    For the bass player, start by using his amplifier LINE OUT (or his speaker out via a direct box) to the the mixer in small incremental amounts. Keep bringing him up in the mix until he's set just perfect (mono is fine)

    Up to now, you've used 4 inputs total. 3 microphones (1 lead singer, 2 BGV) and you're pretty much there.

    The biggest mistakes people tend to make in my estimation:
    1) running stereo. Ask yourself, "WHY?" Presentation is important but when you're playing outdoors live, stereo presentation just adds a layer of complexity you really don't need to hassle with. Mono is fine plus you get the benefits of bridging your amp for more output power.

    2) miking drums. You don't need to mike every drum like Alex Van Halen. 2 overhead SM57 mikes will give you a great boost if you need it, but let's face it ... drums are loud enough, especially if you're playing hard rock music.

    3) adding effects. Lay off the effects generators until you've done a few gigs and get some feedback from people. Chances are all you'll need is some reverb on the vocals, especially if you play somewhere that there's no natural reverb from buildings or walls. Otherwise, try it dry first.

    If you are playing your first few gigs and you absolutely can't hear the mix on stage and need some thing, grab a few small (10" woofer based) floor monitors for the stage. Remember, if you do this, that the total impedance of your speaker system must match or exceed the impedance desires of the power amp. For best results, get it to match. The math is somewhat complicated but if you have four 8 ohm speakers, the math is (1/Rt = 1/R1 + 1/R2 + 1/R3 + 1/R4) ... or 1/Rt = 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 = 2 ohms. As you can see, if the amp wanted to see 4 ohms and you added 2 more 8 ohm speakers, you'd be frying your amp right about now. Keep that in mind. If you're good with wiring, wire the speakers in SERIES instead of PARALLEL to get the impedance higher in this example.

    Finally, don't go nuts with a HUGE PA system to start with. You don't need a refridgerator sized rack of compressors, EQs and amps to sound good for a live gig. Knowledge in this case is better than more gear. If you can, grab a friend who has a good ear and can twist knobs and have them be your sound tech for a while. It will *help* to have that extra person - trust me.

    Have fun! Drop me a message if you need some specific help.
    Later!

  4. #4
    Atomic Punk
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    Three very important items to remember:

    1: mic the kick
    2: mic the kick
    3: mic the kick

    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. -- Gen. George S. Patton

  5. #5
    Atomic Punk
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    Quote Originally Posted by MackieMan
    This is what I do for a living - application support for loudspeaker manufacturer by day, audio engineer the rest of the time. Feel free to PM me and I will be more than happy to give you some advice on what would work best for your application and budget.
    EAW?
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. -- Gen. George S. Patton

  6. #6
    Eruption cam-5150's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your help guys! I was looking around on Musician's Friend for PA systems, and I was wondering which one would best suit my situation. Remember, it's just me (guitar), a bass player, drummer, and vocalist. Thanks again. http://www.musiciansfriend.com/home/...on?q=pa+system

  7. #7
    Good Enough wham bam will rock's Avatar
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    06.26.17 @ 04:51 PM
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    It's good to have your own PA.

    Maybe 'the brothers' VH will ask you to be in the band so they don't have to buy their own!
    "Never is just reven spelled backwards." -House

    "Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?" -THE Rob Gordon

 

 

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