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Portable PA Setup?

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Portable PA Setup?

Postby jonrh98 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 1:19 am

Hi all, I'm a singer-songwriter who plays piano, guitar and sings. I regularly play gigs, and in most cases there's a house PA for me to use, and I can take everything DI to the desk. I also have my own PA system for gigs without a house PA, but this is still fairly large and not very portable as it is in the form of two 1x10s and a fairly large mixer.

I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to a portable PA setup for small gigs without a house PA? As I only play either my stage piano or guitar at gigs (never both in the same set) and sing, I only need two channels really (one for mic too), but am not sure which way to go.

Should I opt for an all-in-one system, or an acoustic amp with separate mic channel? Or would you recommend a 2-track mixer with a small speaker? The more portable the better in this situation, any suggestions welcome.

Oh, and budget friendly is a must - I'm a student!

Cheers!
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby Wonks » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:35 am

If the 1x10"s are active speakers, then I'd use those (or even just one for really small venues) but get a smaller mixer for those gigs. You could of course get smaller active speakers, but you are only talking of 8" speakers and they really don't save much space or weight over 10" speakers and they probably won't sound as good either (though that does depend on what your current speakers are). 8" will work fine with guitar and vocals, but will knock some of the depth of the lower notes on the stage piano.

If they're passive speakers and you have a large powered mixer, then I'd probably be looking at getting a small line array package, such as the Bose L1 compact. You'd probably need to add a small mixer with built-in effects to that as well if you want reverb. But this does depend on your budget as they aren't as cheap as some options.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:46 am

I was going to suggest Bose L1 Compact too until I read your budget requirements (as Wonky says they ain't cheap but they are very good indeed, especially for vocals). The basic built in mixer should get the job done so you would not need to carry a separate mixer.

Otherwise I refer you back to the Wabbit's post.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jan 09, 2020 12:17 pm

I don't know how small the budget is, but I'd suggest the Bose S1pro for that exactly kind of application. I use one with keyboards, vocals and guitar and find it works really well.

H
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby Wonks » Thu Jan 09, 2020 12:33 pm

Do we know if the Bose S1 battery issue has been fully remedied yet?
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jan 09, 2020 12:51 pm

Yes, it hasn't..... Just about to post an update here https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=67988&start=60

For clarity, the Bose S1 Pro battery issue does not affect the S1's battery life in use and most owners will never know if their S1 is affected as it only manifests itself when the S1 is left switched of for a relatively extended period of time. In all other respects it is an excellent little speaker.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:11 pm

I disagree with everything above, but I shall post tomorrow. Bose S1pro? You MUST be kidding!
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby jonrh98 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:39 pm

Wonks wrote:If the 1x10"s are active speakers, then I'd use those (or even just one for really small venues) but get a smaller mixer for those gigs. You could of course get smaller active speakers, but you are only talking of 8" speakers and they really don't save much space or weight over 10" speakers and they probably won't sound as good either (though that does depend on what your current speakers are). 8" will work fine with guitar and vocals, but will knock some of the depth of the lower notes on the stage piano.

If they're passive speakers and you have a large powered mixer, then I'd probably be looking at getting a small line array package, such as the Bose L1 compact. You'd probably need to add a small mixer with built-in effects to that as well if you want reverb. But this does depend on your budget as they aren't as cheap as some options.

Thanks for the advice! The 1x10s are passive, otherwise I would've gone straight down the route of small mixer and one of those, as you said. If I were to buy a small active speaker would you have any recommendations? I have a 6" active monitor but its just too small really.

And sadly the L1 is above budget for me, as nice as one would be.

I'm kind of stuck in terms of reverb, as I use an acoustic reverb pedal for my guitars, and have an adjustable reverb built into my keyboard, do you reckon I could get by without reverb at the desk for the vocals or not?

I've also considered one of the Laney AH Multi-Input amps too, as they seem to get decent reviews for an all in one system and have reverb.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby jonrh98 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:41 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I don't know how small the budget is, but I'd suggest the Bose S1pro for that exactly kind of application. I use one with keyboards, vocals and guitar and find it works really well.

H

I'd looked at the S1, but sadly still over budget really. I'm especially conscious of budget here as this rig will not get a huge amount of use, its more of a 'if needed' kind of job.

Like I said though, the S1 (as well as the L1) had both been contenders outside of price.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby rexlex » Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:27 pm

I would take a look at the Yamaha Stagepas range. I have their predecessors - a pair of Yamaha MRS100s and I've been pretty pleased with them. I've also seen other artists use them for a solo lounge gig and they did the job. They are powered 8inch with a horn and a small mixer in the back - the stagepas range have I think more channels on the mixer.
The MSR100s have a pretty balanced sound with good bass for the size, and the Stagepas speaker looks very similar to the MSR100.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:52 pm

I was going to suggest the Stagepas and it is worth considering (they are very good for the size and price) but the cheapest version is £450 so only £100 cheaper than an S1 which may still stretch the budget.

The S1's USP is it's ability to run 'off grid', the only other name manufacturer currently making a battery powered speaker is JBL and their Eon Compact but that is the same price as the S1 so not a contender.

I'm assuming your budget is under, say, £300? If so I'd be looking at secondhand and then there are two options, buy a 10"+H active cab from LD, Alto or someone similar and a small one or two mic input mixer with built in fx (Behringer Xynex or if you can find one a used XR12 digital mixer which is way more flexible but around £200 new).

The other alternative would be to sell the current rig and buy a couple of 10" powered cabs and the aforementioned Xenyx or XR12. Thomann do a range of 10" actives from £80 to £200 (and, obviously higher) so depending on what your current kit could realise that may be an option.

Use the mixer and one cab for small gigs, both cabs for bigger and you have a minimum of redundant kit sitting around for half the time.

TBH, if it is only for very occasional gigs it may not be worth bothering and just carry on with what you have?
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby Wonks » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:25 pm

If it is a really small gig, then maybe a single Alto TS310 1x10"? Around £200 new. Good sound, lots of volume. A very good speaker for the price. Though you'd still need a small mixer to go with it. You'll get reasonable coverage from one speaker, but if you need a wider spread to cover a wide or L-shaped room, you'll probably have to take the passive system with you. You can then use the active speaker as a monitor.

I've used a Thomann The Box M110 monitor speaker, which can also be pole mounted and that's about £100. Whilst OK as a monitor, it wouldn't be great as a FOH speaker IMO as the frequency response isn't that linear. Fine for hearing yourself sing to know if you are in tune etc. but not the greatest sound otherwise. It has 3-band EQ controls, but they are very subtle, maybe ±3dB at best.

I was going to suggest the Stagepas and it is worth considering (they are very good for the size and price) but the cheapest version is £450 so only £100 cheaper than an S1 which may still stretch the budget.

The S1 pro is currently only £465 at Thomann. But still relatively pricey.

Alternatively check Facebook marketplace. I've seen some good value small active systems being sold on there in the £200-£300 region.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:56 pm

If it's for small gigs and portability is important what about one of the Roland cubes?
Or are they on the pricey side?
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby jonrh98 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:01 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I was going to suggest the Stagepas and it is worth considering (they are very good for the size and price) but the cheapest version is £450 so only £100 cheaper than an S1 which may still stretch the budget.

The S1's USP is it's ability to run 'off grid', the only other name manufacturer currently making a battery powered speaker is JBL and their Eon Compact but that is the same price as the S1 so not a contender.

I'm assuming your budget is under, say, £300? If so I'd be looking at secondhand and then there are two options, buy a 10"+H active cab from LD, Alto or someone similar and a small one or two mic input mixer with built in fx (Behringer Xynex or if you can find one a used XR12 digital mixer which is way more flexible but around £200 new).

The other alternative would be to sell the current rig and buy a couple of 10" powered cabs and the aforementioned Xenyx or XR12. Thomann do a range of 10" actives from £80 to £200 (and, obviously higher) so depending on what your current kit could realise that may be an option.

Use the mixer and one cab for small gigs, both cabs for bigger and you have a minimum of redundant kit sitting around for half the time.

TBH, if it is only for very occasional gigs it may not be worth bothering and just carry on with what you have?

The stagepas do look great, and would definitely go for them if they'd get the use, but for the amount I'd use them probs too pricey.

I must say, I did think about selling the cabs from my larger PA and replacing with larger powered speakers, I'm not sure the difference in price for getting two powered monitors would be justified, as even that rig doesn't get used a whole lot, and is probs worth very little anyway, its only a rough n ready late 90s Peavey system.

Thomann and Alto have both been options I've considered so far, so nice to have someone back them up.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby jonrh98 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:02 am

blinddrew wrote:If it's for small gigs and portability is important what about one of the Roland cubes?
Or are they on the pricey side?

For the size I'd need, probs too pricey, although the portability factor is appealing.

Laney do a range of multi-purpose amps that may be a good shout though.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby jonrh98 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:04 am

Wonks wrote:If it is a really small gig, then maybe a single Alto TS310 1x10"? Around £200 new. Good sound, lots of volume. A very good speaker for the price. Though you'd still need a small mixer to go with it. You'll get reasonable coverage from one speaker, but if you need a wider spread to cover a wide or L-shaped room, you'll probably have to take the passive system with you. You can then use the active speaker as a monitor.

I've used a Thomann The Box M110 monitor speaker, which can also be pole mounted and that's about £100. Whilst OK as a monitor, it wouldn't be great as a FOH speaker IMO as the frequency response isn't that linear. Fine for hearing yourself sing to know if you are in tune etc. but not the greatest sound otherwise. It has 3-band EQ controls, but they are very subtle, maybe ±3dB at best.

I was going to suggest the Stagepas and it is worth considering (they are very good for the size and price) but the cheapest version is £450 so only £100 cheaper than an S1 which may still stretch the budget.

The S1 pro is currently only £465 at Thomann. But still relatively pricey.

Alternatively check Facebook marketplace. I've seen some good value small active systems being sold on there in the £200-£300 region.

Interesting. I do actually also have a 1x12 wedge monitor (powered) but that only comes out for band gigs, and i did consider that for a while but the portability just isn't there.

The alto is definitely a consideration, and in all honesty I hadn't even thought about second hand, that's a good plan.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby Silvercn » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:14 am

I saw Alto mentioned somewhere. Look at the Alto Troupe!! Designed specifically for solo gigs.. I used my Fishman Loudbox with it... And ran the Troupe off its line out. Placed it slightly behind me on a side. A great set up for small to medium venue. Affordable.

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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:03 am

Bulletproof and cheap -

https://www.thomann.de/gb/phonic_powerpod_415rw.htm

Add a couple of used speakers on stands or go for some bundle deal such as this - https://www.thomann.de/gb/phonic_powerp ... bundle.htm

The downside is - mono and echo FX only.

The upside is - Phonic make very simple and robust stuff at low prices that takes being knocked about in its stride. We have Phonic mini mixers on mic stands in the studio for headphone feeds and they all have been smashed against the stone floor many times over the past 18 years and they have never had a single problem - ever! I used a Phonic DJ mixer to feed background music to a PA for 12 years and then gave it away to a son - it is still going today!

For far better quality and better sound, more power etc., etc., the next port of call would be Yamaha - https://www.thomann.de/gb/yamaha_emx_2.htm

The upside is good FX, good build quality, good and clear sound, more power, stereo for keys.

The downside is that it is three times the price. :cry:

Brands to avoid - T-Mix, Alto, Behringer and any others that are built down to a low, low price! You gets what you pays for - as the saying goes! A broken PA that fails at a gig is no PA at all! A PA that churns out a noisy or distorted sound is almost as bad.

Best mixer for providing the audience with a good laugh - nothing beats the sight of watching a Behringer mixer spontaneously combust and start billowing smoke, followed by flames. This fun sight was curtailed when the club's RCD tripped and all was plunged into darkness!
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby DanR » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:25 pm

jonrh98 wrote:
Laney do a range of multi-purpose amps that may be a good shout though.

Yes. The AH150 would do for small gigs. Not sure if it’s pole mountable or if that matters.
The 300 looks a bit on the heavy side plus it’s a 15” which you wouldn’t need.

A used Yamaha StagePas 500 or 300 would be a step up and cost £200-£250.
Stereo too for keys.

The Alto Trouper mentioned looks good value. Just add a small mixer for vocal reverb or go straight in if venue has live acoustics.
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Re: Portable PA Setup?

Postby dickiefunk » Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:23 pm

I have the Alto TS210’s and have to say they are surprisingly good for the money. I’ve owned several Alto speakers (TS1112a, TS110a and TS210a) and have never had an issue with any of them. In fact I made the mistake of not turning down one of my TS210’s to the line input level and had them screaming for a good few minutes and it didn’t cause any damage.
The TS210’s are pretty loud but the newer TS310’s are louder and apparently sound a little clearer.
I know a few people who have used the Behringer Xenyx mixers and they have all developed faults (mainly channels not working) so wouldn’t recommend those. I would personally look at an Allen & Heath Zed 6fx which sell for £124 brand new. You could sell your existing mixer and 10” speakers and buy one or two Alto TS310’s and you’d be good to go.
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