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Looking for a smallish PA for pub gigs

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Looking for a smallish PA for pub gigs

Postby rock and roll » Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:54 pm


I'm a music student doing small-scale acoustic gigs in pubs and restaurants, but of the venues we have, the house PA (if there is one) is of extremely poor quality (carpet as speaker cloth...), which has led us to consider that buying our own small system would be a good investment. I'm a bit new to this so thought I'd ask for some advice here, here's a list of our requirements:

- price, ideally £400 or less for the system, happy to buy used, if absolutely necessary we could maybe sell some stuff and make £500-600

- minimum 4 channels, ideally 6-8+ for more flexibility. Running two vocals, acoustic guitar and electric bass with the bass DI (occasional DI electro acoustic as well), needs reasonable preamps for the micing acoustic instruments.

- enough volume to play pub gigs to ~100 people

- Some form of audio output for recording would be nice, ideally individual outputs for each channel with the eventual aim of hooking it up to a multitrack recorder, but could get by with a stereo output.

- Preferably compact enough to fit in the boot/back seat of a Corsa, lightweight is a bonus if it doesn't compromise the sound/reliability

Cheers :)

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Re: Looking for a smallish PA for pub gigs

Postby turbodave » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:31 pm

Hi, Considering you have gigs , I would look to up your budget. Even second hand, at £400 with the purchase of microphones, leads , stands,a desk and active speakers to consider you will end up with mostly rubbish. I would look to up your budget via a loan if possible (I know it ain't easy) to around £1200. You would then get an OK new system or a slightly higher grade second hand one. Dave
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Re: Looking for a smallish PA for pub gigs

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:34 pm

Hi, Pete.

Powered speakers and a small format desk would be my first port of call.

For DI bass you'll need at least 12" speakers for quiet gigs and 15"s if anyone's going to talk. The Alto Truesonics got a decent review in these pages and I can vouch for the 12"s. For bigger gigs a single sub and crossover can be added to supplement.

Most desks will have RCA phono outs for stereo recording. Look for insert points on each channel, these can double as individual outs for multitracking. I'd avoid Behringer personally, there are many great little desks going second hand that can be easily checked for usual wear and tear. Soundcraft, Mackie and Dynacord are all worth a look. Allen and Heath if you're lucky and have a few more sheckles to spare.

A small built in graphic EQ can be useful for general use but sensible placement, a decent bass preamp and wise mic choice will be required to avoid feedback which would be beyond the scope of such an EQ.

Unfortunately this little lot will soak up at least your £400 and, as Dave suggests you've not yet allowed for mics, stands, cables, monitor system, etc.

As usual with money, less is definitely not more.
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Re: Looking for a smallish PA for pub gigs

Postby Jim Taylor » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:09 pm


Just a couple of thoughts... You'll be surprised just how hinky live sound can be and people will still accept it. With the style implicit in your post in mind, you also don't need massive volume.

More specifically:

- Use a bass amp. It'll sound better and you aren't trying to be all things to all people at the same time.

- Don't worry too much about the recordings. If you're looking to hear what you sound like live in order to work out some kinks in your performances, get someone with a half decent camera to record a gig. You'll learn more watching and listening. If it's for demos/ live recordings for sale/ youtube etc, hook up whatever you normally record to and stick a decent mic up. You don't need stereo and you don't need separation, this is just a live gig, embrace the 'dirt'!

- Each guitar should only need about 50 watts to be heard by >100 ppl. You could try something like a JBL EON 515 running out of a small mixer (Soundcraft 124FX?). Start with 1 (you really don't need stereo) and then add more when you have some cash. That'll leave more than enough head room for the goals

As ppl said above, you aren't budgeting enough for this kit. Whatever you buy now will be with you for a few years, get the best you can. Some canny eBay purchases will ease the pain but... Having said that, try Gumtree, local music shops etc.

- You really don't need stereo :-)


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Re: Looking for a smallish PA for pub gigs

Postby jj pep » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:19 pm

If you can up your budget try taking a look at the LD systems Maui 28. Got one recently for doing a similar job to what your specing and its been great. They cost about 870euro on thomann though... plus you'll need a desk, mics stand, cables and mics of course.
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Re: Looking for a smallish PA for pub gigs

Postby aekoi » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:33 pm

Unless your out in the sticks, you should be able to find some usable speakers for not too much on ebay - I grabbed two JBL EON 1500 (15") for £200 a while back and I'm getting plenty of use out of them.

Thoman do a half decent own brand amps. I got a E2400 (650 a side) for £140 from ebay but even new they're very affordable.

Something like the Yamaha EMX512 is worth a look too (ebay link below). I use mine for all sorts of smaller gigs. No PFL but for pub 'set n forget' that wont be an issue.

Red 5 Audio do a RV30 four pack dynamic for £99, perfectly usable at pub gig level.

The Mackie 802 VLZ3 is a handy mixer also, bout 200 new. I have one, basic but very well built.

As other have said you may be a bit short with your £400, maybe £800 will do it tho. Happy gear hunting.
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Re: Looking for a smallish PA for pub gigs

Postby aekoi » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:36 pm

theres a set up that may be ok for you. I think its a bit dear tho (£500atm). Trick with ebay is to save lots of searches (requesting daily emails) and just wait for the bargains, they do come.
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Re: Looking for a smallish PA for pub gigs

Postby grab » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:52 am

I'm not very keen on powered mixers personally - I feel they lock you too much into one setup. If you're never going to upgrade then no worries, but if you might want to move up to more powerful speakers, or you might want more channels, or you might just want some proper EQ (the EQ on powered mixers is nearly always not-very-good), then you're stuck.

Better would be a reasonable desk-style mixer with onboard FX, paired with either active speakers or passive speakers and a suitable amp. That way you can upgrade each part independently.

There's a Soundcraft Spirit FX8 going on eBay at the moment. It's getting on a bit in years, but they're pretty robust mixers with nice preamps and EQ, and the FX are OK. If it all works and the faders/knobs aren't crackly, that should do nicely.

Or there's a nice nearly-new A&H. Less inputs, but such is life.

For what you're doing, second the idea of just using a bass amp. Then you can use 12" speakers and don't need so much power.
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