When addressing a significant number of people, be it a cocktail party, premiering your new mix tape, or even a live music performance, you may need to reinforce and amplify the sound using a public address system. A public address system also referred to as a sound reinforcement system is a general term referring to various instruments such as loudspeakers, mixing consoles and amplifiers. If you are an artist, owning a public address system can be a wise decision, especially in case you find yourself performing in a small venue that does not have an in-house PA system. Depending on their capabilities and power output, there is a huge disparity between different PA systems concerning the price and performance. A good PA system should not only broadcast and reinforce the sound but also allow the artist to put emphasis on particular sounds.
As a result of their unparalleled ability to distribute and amplify sound, PA systems are used widely in numerous settings including libraries, and live performances and concerts. Some systems are a simple assembly of loudspeakers and a microphone, whereas others are a complex mix of routers, amplifiers, speakers, mixers, and multiple microphones. Depending on your needs, you can opt for a simple system if you are serving a small venue or a more complex arrangement if you want to suffice a larger venue such as a stadium, airport, or school. This article looks into some of the fundamental considerations you need to take into account before you choose a public address system.
The first and a crucial factor you need to take into account is the size of the audience you will be addressing. Knowing the size of the audience helps to determine the power output you need for your public address system. Go for a system with a smaller power output if you will be addressing a small crowd, say no more than fifty people. However, if you will be addressing larger crowds of more than one hundred and fifty people, be sure to choose a PA system with a higher power output, usually more than seventy-five watts. Nonetheless, if you will be in a large venue prone to loud conditions, for instance outdoors, you may want to consider buying a system with more power output, say from 250 watts and above.
The environment of use
You will either be using your PA system indoors or outdoors. Outdoor systems require more flexibility and power compared to indoor systems. As such, if your system will be utilized mostly outdoors, look for a portable model that can also run on batteries should you be far from a power source. You should also look for one with a high power output that can accommodate the need for extra speakers so as to increase its range. On the other hand, if your PA system will be entirely for indoor use, be sure to know the size of the room you will be using and also the number of people the room can hold.
It is in your best interest if you use stands for your speakers. It is recommendable that you place your speakers off the ground and up around the head level, as it helps to improve their overall performance because sound travels much better. Therefore, if you want to enhance the performance of your PA system, it would be wise to consider using tripod stands for your speakers.
The microphone is a paramount part of your public address system. It captures audio sound waves and transforms them into electric signals, which then get transmitted to the loudspeakers. When buying a microphone or microphones, you will have to choose between wireless and wired options, which can either be handheld or mounted on a stand. Ensure you are confident that the external microphones you buy are compatible with your PA system. In most cases, you will have wired microphones included in the basic PA system package. It is an ideal choice whereby you expect minimal movement. How far you can go will be determined by the length of the cable. Conversely, with wireless microphones, you don’t have any restrictions concerning mobility. If you want to interact with your audience during the performance or be able to move from one end to the other, a wireless model would certainly be the best option for you. If you want to learn more about the wired and wireless microphones, click here for an in-depth insight.
Before choosing a Public address system, take into account how portable it is. Establish how far and how often you will need to transport the system and ask yourself if when needed, whether the system can be carried with ease. Is the system light enough to carry by hand, or does it have a retractable handle or rolling casters? Asking yourself some of these questions will help you determine whether the PA system you choose meets your portability needs.
A protective case is a welcome accessory to protect your PA system from unwanted elements that may damage your PA system such as sand, dust, and winds. Some portable systems are designed with a shoulder to carry bags, making it easy to pack and move the PA system conveniently in its case. Check out for models that come with protective cases to ensure your PA system is not damaged and remains in a healthy state for a long time even when it’s not in use.
Public address systems come in different types to suit the different and unique user needs. However, they can either be passive or active. An active system comes with a built-in amplifier in the loudspeaker whereas a passive system calls for an external power amplifier. Nevertheless, passive PA systems are considered to have a superior performance than their active counterparts, but also tend to cost a lot more since you will need to buy speakers and amplifiers separately. Gather sufficient information and learn as much as you can so that you can choose the one that is best suited to your needs.
There is no doubt that a lot needs to be considered before buying a public address system. Based on the information highlighted in this article, a good PA system must include an amplifier, a mixer, a microphone, and one or multiple speakers. If you need to monitor the reinforcement or the amplification, a pair of headphones will come in handy. Also, take into account any extra equipment that you may require under different circumstances such as a backup power supply, stage box, quality wires and cables among others. Depending on your requirements, you can either opt for a simple system that consists of a microphone and a mixer or a more complex assembly. The points discussed in this article will guide you on the basic considerations you must not overlook when buying a PA system.