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Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

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Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby ptate » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:50 am

Hello.. :thumbup:

I manage a young three-piece band who have shot from nothing to people asking them to perform at various events (from 200 to 3000 people, indoor and out).

Having been singer/guitarist in a band a few years ago, we got used to having the sound set up by an in-house engineer and only tentatively bought a few small bits of kit, for the "it'll do in an emergency" gig. It never got used until the young band needed it and ultimately proved it's incompetence (cutting out - but not due to redlining).

We need to buy a decent PA system, that can allow for 3 mics, a bass guitar (straight in - no amp) and the output from a 100w Marshall JVM (mic'd up).

Gig-wies, we are looking at anything from outdoor, through old theatres, to clubs etc. so it needs to be versatile and BULLETPROOF.... As I can't be arsed with dodgy pieces of kit any more... :D

Been looking at the Allen & Heath PA12. Zed series etc, but know nothing about how to plug in, what size speakers to use, impedance matching etc.

The old kit was a Behringer Europower PMP530M powered mixer, that ran two Carlsbro 12" cabs (8ohm each - daisychained at 4 ohms) and one 15" 8 ohm cab. It took the mics and bass guitar, leaving the Marshall just pushing air itself. It was fine for a short time.

We need to get it right, straight-off, so any help please - of the dumbest kind :headbang: (pictures/videos and diagrams are good..!!) would be extremely appreciated.

We just need equipment that is straight forward to set up and plug-in that could cope with a reasonable sized gig (500 people).

Thanks very much.... :thumbup:
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby MarkPAman » Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:39 am

Hmmm

"100w Marshall JVM (mic'd up)"
"500 people"

That's not going to be a small PA, it's going to be a van load! You'll need to put the drums through it too.

Have you got deep pockets?

I think I'd:

Get a decent bass guitar amp that can keep up with the Marshall. Use your existing PA for vocals only for the smaller stuff. I'm sure you'll get suggestions on upgrading it soon ;)

Hire large PA with operator for larger stuff as needed & lean from that whether you really want to own one.
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby ptate » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:51 pm

Thanks very much Mark :thumbup:

Room for storage isn't an issue, but I'm pretty sure the Europower got fried last time by some borrowed 12" heads we were offered for use. It started intermittently dropping the mic (despite two cable/mic changes) and then left the bass dead in short bursts as well.

It had three mics and the bass using four of the six channels, then daisychained 12" 8ohm PA cabs (4ohm total load?) running off the jack output, then a 15" 8ohm PA cab as well on the speakon output.

It was only a smallish gig (about 100 in a Victorian theatre), so volume was full on the headmic, 2/3 for the normal mics and around 3/4 on the master volume.

I was thinking along the lines of an Allen & Heath PA12 or equivalent, with some 1000W 15", then 12" tops (if that makes any sense?). What output does the A&H produce (?) and would it need some kind of amp etc..?

See what I mean - Dumbass level....!!! :mrgreen:

We just want to make sure it's decent enough to give enough volume with additional headroom in case - thanks.
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:51 pm

I'd agree 100% with what Mark said. If you feel you need to mic up the Marshall then I'd have a good listen to the sounds being used and try to work out why it isn't loud enough - it certainly should be!

One other thought... is the real problem an overly loud drummer?
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby ptate » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:58 pm

Thanks James...!

The drummer is a loud lad, the music is probably best described as melodic Old-school rock/punk/Artic Monkey/Funk mix..... :o ........ However, they all play loud (with ear protection).

They're only young kids, but with serious adult power and talent despite it..... :thumbup:

My son plays a '78 Precision, with added '69 jazz pup; the others use full acoustic drums and a Fender Tele through the Marshall.

We want to invest in something that will cover them easily for a long time, rather than just "make do".

Cheers.
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:24 pm

I'd take Mark's advice and hire for a couple of gigs first, see what the hire company brings, how they set it up and how it sounds. Maybe try a couple of different companies to see some different kit and approaches, then use that experience to inform your buying. At the moment you're looking at a very blank canvas and it's pretty hard for people to give advice. If you can narrow that down with some practical experience you're likely to end up with a much more appropriate purchase.
I reckon ;)
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:25 pm

ptate wrote:We want to invest in something that will cover them easily for a long time, rather than just "make do".

Probably the best investment would be in building a relationship with a friendly sound engineer who can look after your gigs. Once you move up from a couple of boxes on sticks things can get pretty serious and watching someone else handle a gig is often the best way to learn.

You could easily be looking at £5-10k (or more) for a system that will work for 500 people.
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby BigRedX » Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:18 pm

Is this for an originals band or covers? And where in the world are you?

I ask because in the last 10 years of playing in originals bands in the UK (gigging on average every other week) I can only recall 3 occasions when the venue didn't have a suitable in-house PA complete with engineer. Those occasions were when we played places that didn't normally have live music or didn't have anything more demanding than an acoustic duo, and each time we hired in a PA specially for the gig.

Of course if it is covers or somewhere other than the UK the situation will probably be completely different.
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:05 am

Another +1 for Mark's advice, get a decent bass rig. But, if the budget is available, I'd upgrade the PA to a couple of Yamaha DXR10s or DXR 12s and a single DXS15 sub. That'll get you up to 100-200 people. Add an A&H Zed fx mixer to taste and you have a decent small gig rig. Then for the bigger gigs hire a big FOH rig and use the DXRs as extra monitors if required. The DXR/DXS speakers are 'active/powered' and take away all the impedance issues you might have with passive speakers and power amps/powered mixers.

FWIW I have done outdoor gigs to 400+ people with a couple of QSC K12s and an old EV sub. But, not at metal band levels (and my guitar amp is an 18 watt valve combo)......
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:17 am

Assuming that you buy a decent PA rig from the likes of D&B or JBL, EV, etc, then for rock you must calculate about 5-10 Watts per person, depending on the venue, though for any venue, you should be using a bottom line of 1kW.

For example, our new post production room will have 1.2kW of Genelec monitoring, as good clean sound requires loads of reserve power and oodles of bass.

Rock audiences expect the bass to hit them in the stomach and you can't do that with small and/or cheap systems.

We want to invest in something that will cover them easily for a long time, rather than just "make do".
You have not sited a budget, but I agree with James (who always gives good advice!) that you need to think in terms of a £5k minimum here for the PA speakers and amps, if you want to get something decent. Then add a mixer, mics, monitoring and lighting/effects and for a modest outlay of c.a. £10k you are in business. There are very few businesses that you can start with just £10k and a van!

The sad fact is that most start-up businesses begin life hopelessly under-resourced (financially and in know-how and other resources) and consequently fail - and rock bands are the worst of the lot. There is no shortage of competition, but the venue manager has to book someone - he may choose between ten bands, but if nine out of the ten are using tatty and under-powered kit, have no lights or smoke and arrive in a beaten-up old van that breaks down, he or she will pick the well-equipped ones who arrive on time and put on a great show with an exciting concept behind it.

Show business is still a business. If you treat it like a business, your son and his colleagues will succeed.
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby AlecSp » Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:34 pm

200-3000 people will need the whole band through the PA. Regardless of the PA kit itself, there's a whole load of capability/experience to make that work as an engineer which is a world away from a typical pub vocals-only PA.

Most of the advice above is good. Especially making use of house systems/engineers.
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby DanR » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:03 pm

All useful info.
Your budget would be handy to know and also transportation for equipment plus where you’re based.
Assuming you can go to several k:

It depends really on the audience number at most of your gigs. If regularly around 500
you may need a stack each side, eg 1 or 2 HK Actor systems or hire a sound company.

First up, bass amp needed.
Looking at what you had previously and what you’re after now I think for ease of setup for small to medium gigs a portable, powerful 2 sub/2 top powered PA would be best for FOH.
I have an RCF HD12a/905as system (2x12, 2x15. Excellent sound, light and can be used tops only, tops and 1 sub, 2 tops/2 subs. Pretty much a 4Kw pa.

Also as Mr Spoons mentioned, the Yamaha DXR/DXS range is great bang for the buck.
I considered a DXR12 and DXS15 system but saw an ad for a used pair of RCF subs so went for all RCF.
For a bit more heft down low and considering drum mics too, then QSC K12ii with KW1801
subs would do very nicely.
Who’s on sound for your gigs?
Mixer wise go for A&H Q Pac and iPad or Qu 16 for sliders and iPad. Then soundman can wander around the venue mixing the sound. Works great and I use it a lot.

Apart from leads,stands accessories etc.. there’s the monitors. Should be straightforward being a 3 piece and the Q Pac, Qu16 has plenty of monitor mix outputs.
Either go in ear or get 2 or 3 active 10’s.
Then there’s the lights!
4x ADJ 5P or 12P Hex up on tripods linked via DMX. Operated by hand held RF remote if there’s someone about to do it.
Completely self contained.
Hope this helps.
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby Dave Rowles » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:00 pm

MarkPAman wrote:Hire large PA with operator for larger stuff as needed & lean from that whether you really want to own one.

Yep. This. Best money you will spend. Having a system that will hit 3000 people is a significant outlay, in the tens of thousands, and you will need an engineer attached to it.
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby DanR » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:34 am

blinddrew wrote: At the moment you're looking at a very blank canvas and it's pretty hard for people to give advice. If you can narrow that down with some practical experience you're likely to end up with a much more appropriate purchase.
I reckon ;)

This.
It’s all speculation otherwise.
I based my PA suggestions on what ptate had been using before and that he wanted an easy to set up, reliable PA that will last.
For larger gigs (3000) a company would handle this either provided by the event organiser or hired yourself.
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Re: Best PA for live band - Dumbass level please....!

Postby MarkPAman » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:30 am

Just been reading back, and noticed this, which we seem to have missed:

....then daisychained 12" 8ohm PA cabs (4ohm total load?) running off the jack output, then a 15" 8ohm PA cab as well on the speakon output.

That's a 2⅔Ω load, which was asking the amp to deliver much more power than it was designed to handle, so it's no surprise that it was not happy. In fact you're probably lucky if it just cut out temporarily, as it could easily have killed it entirely.

That Marshall amp is not needing to do full range, or be very clean (in fact quite the opposite) so is very efficient for guitar. I doubt any 300W PA system would really be up to even getting just the vocals up to a level that sounds good if the guitar's turned up, let alone reproduce bass guitar as well.

Top of your list must be a bass amp, then see how the PA you have works with the vocals only, and a load of no less than 4Ω.
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