View Full Version : Newbie asks: Basic PA for house concert?

March 30th, 2011, 07:16 AM
In some future, I would like to have some local music played as house concerts at my place. Think small coffee-house type of affair, mostly acoustic or light electric, two voices. Indoors, with 50 people, or outdoors, on the lawn (OK, moss) with maybe 100 (yeah!)

I suspect some bands will have sufficient PA of their own (?), but I would like to plan on having something on hand.

What would be good choices for basic PA system components, given that I start fresh, no legacy equipment.
Pick some up used on CL or such?
In a pinch, could I put a Blues Jr and a newer Bassman 100W bass amp to work in the chain?

March 30th, 2011, 09:49 AM
This self contained PA head will work well with 2 speakers of your choice. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=130468355045&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

If you are just playing at home or coffee shop then 2 12" or 15" speakers with horns will work fine, but you'll also want some speaker stands to get them up over people's heads.


All this should be $700 or less brand new.

March 30th, 2011, 03:28 PM
I ran a small PA for folk clubs, village halls and the like which consisted of a Phonic PA head (2 x 200w, assignable to main and monitor), 2 1x15 + horn cabs built by a local PA supplier on stands and some really useful little Peavey monitors for places with actual stages as opposed to just a corner of the room. It was just fine for anything from a solo singer to a small group and handled guitars, vocals and keyboards without raising a sweat for 100-200 people. It was nicely self-contained, used only one power point and went in the back of my Vauxhall Cavalier (mid-sized hatchback) with room for my guitar, Fender BJ and the smaller section of the rear seat free.
These days I'd be inclined to use powered cabinets with a small desktop mixer. The plus point is that you only need to carry mic cables for nearly all audio connections. The downside is having to run more power cables.
To avoid the need for monitors, place one of your main speakers behind and to the side of the performer(s). A little experimentation with placement will get you round any feedback problems.

March 30th, 2011, 05:26 PM
To avoid the need for monitors, place one of your main speakers behind and to the side of the performer(s). A little experimentation with placement will get you round any feedback problems.

This works great, but be patient to find the best spot for the speaker to avoid feedback. Unless you are really being loud you might not need floor wedges and can then keep your cost down and floor space open.

March 31st, 2011, 07:34 PM
My take on it is different. You spend money on your guitars and amps to get the tone you want,you should try to get the best possible equipment to reproduce those tones when you play out.
So think about your needs and what you really want to do so when you buy,you buy once and you can grow with it.
Powered speakers are a great value. They are already matched with amps in them that most of the time has some DSP control.Look at a passive mixer that has more inputs than you think you will need. Will you want to put Kick drum and bass through your PA in the future? You may end up getting a sub also.
When you do grow most powered speakers can be used as monitors too.
Like I said you spend hard earned money on your guitars and amps,why wouldn't you spend as much care and time to share your tone at a gig?
Do you play your songs half prepared?:AOK

April 1st, 2011, 10:25 AM
Good post BJD. Still, I can't see myself investing in PA as much as in gear, I get that angle too. After all, good guitar gear you can get for a thousand in total or so, but that money only buys a very basic small PA system.

Also, in PA systems, remember that once you go outdoors, you need ten times the power.

In a nice small room/club for a quiet/jazzy/whatever band all you need is a couple of 100-150W active speakers; if the singer has lots of output and thus no worry for feedback, not even monitors necessary. You can get a *good* system for under a thousand easy. In a really small room or quiet environment where people actually listen, they might even be enough for electric drums, if you don't expect a booming bass.

If you want to add kickdrum and more oomph for it, and a system that actually is louder than the acoustic kickdrum from the stage, you need to add a proper sub to the same system, which is easy; just get a 500-600 or so watt active sub to go with the original speakers and good to go. Cost you another thousand for good gear.

But these will get you nowhere outside, or they will really sound quite puny. Sufficient to amplify of course but no way to get any real rock volume. Maybe for a jazz band or background/street music.

If you want to get loud, it gets expensive fast, or sounds bad if you go cheap. For a loud rock PA in a large club or an outdoor system that isn't merely background volume, I'd say at least ~1K for tops and 2-3 k watts for bottoms; cost you anything from 2-3000 onwards, again for quality stuff and of course how much other gear and monitors. Could get passable systems as low as under a thousand but don't expect much sonic quality. Also remember whatever you have for tops, you need pretty much that wattage monitors as well. Very easy to spend 10k on a nice system that size.

This is closest to what we toured with...we had a few systems that had an 800W amp for tops and a 1800W amp for bottoms, and it was pretty good for club venues. We played two outside gigs with it and loaned it to one outside gig, and it really didn't quite cut it so well any more outside, but was passable. Can't speak of any thumping beat to get the crowd moving, though.

April 1st, 2011, 04:07 PM
Yes it gets expensive fast .
If you want good AND loud. Really expensive!
My point is more along the lines of, we all take alot of time to pick the guitars we like,the amps we like and so on.
Do the research,take the time to purchase your PA equipment the same way because its what puts you out there to your audience.
Powered speakers is THE way to go. Lots of bang for your buck and they last. A good mixer is a must. A good vocal mic for yourself to DIE FOR! Everything else you can kinda dink around with alittle.
Budgets for this stuff are always on the light side but with a little research and planning you can make your PA bucks go along way!

April 23rd, 2011, 06:09 PM
Glad this got posted because once I am in a real house, I want to be able to host local music in a garage or something. You know, fairly freeform type deal. Great info here.

April 24th, 2011, 05:33 PM
I got a pair of those Beringer cabs with 12's that Spudman posted a pic of above. They were inexpensive and sound good. I bought them to replace some large Peavy cabs I had that were 66 lbs each. The Beringers are 24

April 26th, 2011, 08:13 AM
I've got a pair of these. JBL EON 15 powered speakers. They are great but I barely use them. If you're just doing shows at your house you probably don't even need 12s. I've got a set of Yamaha 10s with a small Fender powered mixer head that works just fine. The smaller speakers typically have just as high a power rating as the larger ones but they don't have quite as much low end response. If you aren't running bass or kick drums through the PA you wont know the difference. Actually the vocals (to me) tend to cut better with the smaller cones. The fact that they're typically cheaper and take up less space is a plus too.

May 2nd, 2011, 01:50 PM
I use the powered Behringer 15" as well. At home for a jam, I only use one, the pair would be too loud. I also used just one for the opening of the creche at our church last year. Outdoor and about 1200 sq ft. Seemed adequate enough.