As a musician, you are always concerned about sound, as you should be, which is why you are always looking for the best equipment you can find. There are many things that interest you, and many of those things may be new to you. That brings me to the topic of this article. There is no live performer that does not have a PA system. If you are new to this and have no idea what you are doing, allow me to teach everything that you need to know to get you started. But my recommendation is simple. The best course of action is to invest in one of the best PA systems you can afford. You will see why.
What is a PA system and what does it do?
It is called a public address system, but it is also known as a sound reinforcement system. To put it simply, a PA system is an electronic amplification system that will transfer the music from the performer to the people from the audience. It has multiple components, and not all PA systems are the same, but all of them have the same purpose. Here is what a PA system can do:
- It will convert acoustic sound into electronic signals, usually with microphones and line inputs (one or the other.)
- It will process and mix the signals mentioned above by using effects modules andmixing
- It will amplify the signals with a power amplifier
- Delivers the sound using the speakers
- Monitors the performance using in-ear monitors and speakers.
As I mentioned above, not all PA systems are the same, which means that you can find models that have more features and capabilities. The design also differs. However, you know best what you need, and you will establish which features you want and which you do not need.
What is a prepackaged PA system?
I decided to write about that because people who have been in the music business usually recommend beginners to buy one of those. Why? Because a beginner has a lot to learn, and until he or she will know howto put together an entire PA system, a prepackaged one sounds excellent. That is because it will get you up and running without worrying about incompatibilities between the pieces of equipment. Makes sense, right? Not to mention that bundled gear will save you some money for the time being.
Things to consider before buying a PA system
My recommendation is that you should never buy a random product like the one that comes first in a Google search. You need to do some research and establish what you need exactly. Once you determine the criteria, you can start looking at models. However, there are a few basic things that you need to consider. Here are a few.
This is something that only you can decide. You need to ask yourself how portable do you need your PA system to be. If you are playing mostly in your garage, then portability is not an issue you should concern yourself with. However, if you have gigs at multiple venues, portability is key. A traditional PA system consists of various pieces of equipment like a mixing board, outboard signal processors, monitor speaker cabinets, and dedicated power amps. So, if you need to move around often, transporting all those things may prove to be a bit tricky. For starters, you need a van and manpower. However, to eliminate all that, you can go for a more compact and portable PA system. You can find multiple models that integrate everything you need in a single enclosure. As far as size is concerned, the portable PA systems look like a standard PA speaker.
There is also something else that you should know. The small PA systems are limited in comparison with the traditional PA systems. They lack the control and the sound output. Not entirely, but there is less of that. Just to get a clear picture, compact PA systems cannot deliver the same powerful sound like a regular PA system. You have the option of buying a separate mixing board if you want a more powerful performance, but that is entirely up to you.
Powered vs. unpowered PA speakers
Powered speakers are more popular than unpowered because they have built-in amplifiers. If you choose the unpowered version, then you must purchase one or more dedicated power amps, which is something that you may not afford. By choosing the powered PA speaker, you can go for a non-powered mixer.
Powered speakers are also popularamong musicians who play at small venues because they provideexcellent portability and there is no hassle with the setup. Just like with any other thing, there is a drawback as well. You may get more flexibility and portability from a powered PA speaker, but you do not have as much control as over an unpowered PA speaker. All big performers use unpowered PA speakers, and it is easy to see why. The powered version may be more convenient, but the non-powered model provides more control.
Not everyone chooses to purchase a subwoofer withhis or her PA system. However, if your music contains a lot of low bass frequencies, the lack of such a piece of equipment will ruin your performance. From the start, a subwoofer will affect your portability. No manufacturerbuilds an integrated subwoofer. Do you know why? Because intense vibration may damage other components, and you do not wish for that.
Every PA system comes with a microphone. There are multiple models and choosing one may prove to be a pain in the behind. However, there is one thing you should know. There are two types of microphones: dynamic and condenser. The first one is durable and reliable. It is designed for on-stage use. The latter is made to catch subtle sounds and handle high sound pressure levels. They also capture fast transients. People usually use condenser mics during recording sessions, but they work just as fine on stage. Keep in mind that condenser microphones need phantom power. If your mixerdoesnot include sufficient phantom powered inputs, a condenser mic is not such a great idea.
You should also make a choice between a wired and a wireless microphone. If you move a lot on stage, then a wireless microphone is the best idea. If not, you can save yourself some money and stick with the wired one.
There are other things that you should consider like cables, mixers, equalizers, and other essentials, but I think that I covered the basic information. That should be enough to get you started.
What are the best PA systems?
Now that you learned a bit about PA systems, it is time to choose the right model for you. You can go on and choose whichever you think it fits your criteria. If you are still having doubts, here are three excellent suggestions.
Hisonic HS120B Portable PA System
Hisonic PA system is ideal for beginners. It is compact, which makes it very portable. With only 6 pounds, you can carry this little thing anywhere you go. It has a high-quality lithium rechargeable battery that will not make you depend on an outlet. If you plan on singing outdoors, this the PA system you are looking for. The high-capacity battery will last about two and a half hours. And when it is low, you can charge it in your car. In the package, you will receive a car cigarette lighter cable.
This product comes with a built-in VHF wireless microphone system, but you can use a wired one as well. The device has an additional microphone input jack. As for power, this PA system has a powerful 40 watts speaker that can deliver clear and loud sound even when you are in a noisy environment. Other features include independent microphone volume controls, power indicator, battery charge indicator, radio frequency connection indicator, tone and echo control, and individual volume for auxiliary input.
A lot of people buy this product. It is light and compact, which makes it portable, and the quality is unquestionable. There have been thousands of customers, and the overall rating of this product is excellent. It is not difficult to see why. You have enough features for an amateur, and you have a great quality-price ratio. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
ION Audio Tailgater
The ION PA system is a bit larger than the previous one and heavier. It weighs almost 17 pounds, but that makes it a little better. It has a rechargeable battery that once is fully charged it can provide up to 50 hours of continuous use. That makes it portable so that you can take it with you wherever you go. So if you think about it, the previous product is an entirely different league.The speakers are powerful and dynamic, and the sound is clear.
One of the features that most people love about this product is connectivity. You can connect your smartphone if you like via Bluetooth. It gives you more control. The operating system does not matter. Another feature that I like is that it can act as a USB power bank. Since the battery is so powerful, you can use the PA system to recharge your phone or your tablet. Quite convenient if you ask me.
The ION PA system also includes an AM/FM radio with a bright display and a 1/8 inches auxiliary input. The microphone and the auxiliary cable are included in the package. One of the things that I find inconvenient for this product is the fact that it does not have wheels. It is a pity given the fact that it is portable. If it had 6 pounds and a handle, it would not have been a problem. But with 17 pounds, a set of wheels would have been welcome. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
Pyle PWMA1090 UI PA Speaker Sound System
The Pyle PA system is something that a professional would use. It is a solid 40 pounds device that can do some serious damage. It may be powerful, but it is portable as well. The weight does not matter when you have wheels, rights? This one has two caster wheels that will help you transport the system easier. It also has a convenient telescoping handle. The 10 inches 3-way speakers provide amazing sound (woofer mid-range, and tweeter.)
The Pyle model has excellent features. It comes with an iPod/iPad dock that will charge your device while playing music. It also has an LCD digital display and FM radio. The rechargeable battery can last up to 3 hours of continuous use.
Other features include a USB and SD readers, retractable AUX input cable (3.5mm,) mic inputs guitar, audio, iPod/MP3. With the Pyle PA system, you will also receive a remote control, wireless VHF handheld mic, and a lavalier headset. It is a pretty good deal if you ask me. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
I have to admit that I was very inclined to go with the ION PA system because of the battery. 50 hours is a very long time for a battery to last. However, if you compare features, the Pyle PWMA1090 UI PA Speaker Sound System wins every time. It has better speakers, so better sound; it has excellent connectivity, and its quality is undoubted. That is why I believe it is one of the best PA systems in this price range.
If you have no idea what you are doing, then listen to me and take my advice. It will not be long until you learn everything there is to know about PA systems and will be able to create your own. It is not hard, but you need to build up some experience. Until then, one of the three products described above is perfect for what you need right now. Trust me, you will be pleased with your purchase. Click here to buy on Amazon
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