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Slightly OT: Sound Reinforcement for Practice/Performance
Old 11th June 2003
Lives for gear
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Talking Slightly OT: Sound Reinforcement for Practice/Performance

Hey all- need some quick advice on PAs. I need to get a good rig together for practices with my new band- mostly to pump vocals/acoustic guitar/cello through- but with the versatility, power and sonic clarity to send a whole band mix through for shows I may host outdoors or for club shows where I want the dependability of my own system. I don't need to blow my wad on this- its main purpose will definitely be for band practices to send essentials through, but I'm a gearslut so I want it to be done right. What are the best of all the options?
Old 11th June 2003
Lives for gear
littledog's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
It would help if you got a little more specific.

For instance - floor wedges... Do you need/want them? How many seperate monitor mixes do you think you will need (if any)?

Do you have anything already (like power amps). Do you already have any outboard effects or processing you will be using, or do you want everything self-contained/all in the box?

The requirements for getting a decent level of sound outdoors can be hugely different (by orders of magnitude) from what you would need for practicing in your basement.

The simplest systems may involve getting self-powered speakers, but you lose a lot of flexibility.

A budget range would also be very helpful here. There are plenty of relatively cheap "all-in-one" powered boards and/or boxes that have built in digital effects and built in power amps. They'd all be fine for basement rehearsals, but many of them would be grossly underpowered for outdoor concerts, and may not have enough routing flexibility, depending on your monitoring needs. They can be always beefed up with external power amps, of course, but if that is going to be a common situation, it might be more cost effective to go with seperate components right from the start.

For small clubs and basements the EV SX300 speakers might be something you would want to consider. Pole mountable, small footprint, fairly lightweight, extremely durable, and nice sounding for a small 2-way system. Another nice feature is they come with little snap-on feet that let them be used as floor wedges (on their sides). If you are doing a lot of outdoor stuff, (or want a lot more bottom end) the SX500's (with 15" drivers) might be another option, but they are a whole lot bulkier.

For power amps, I recommend the QSC PLX series, as they are extremely lightweight, yet powerful. I think they sound better than some of the other lightweight design power amps in the same price range like Carver or Stewart.

You may be able to do just fine with one of the budget Mackie or Soundcraft (or, dare I say it, Behringer) boards with the above components.
Old 11th June 2003
Lives for gear
๐ŸŽง 15 years
littledog, budget is 1-3k, only need one monitor mix really, I don't have any component pieces at the moment but was planning on getting some anywho. Floor wedges would be fine- but I don't think they are a requisite. Durability, supreme sound quality (being able to put a whole kit, cello, acoustic guitar, and vocals through the mix), and relative portability (aka the sound system can't take up a whole van) are the most important factors. A dude at GC (::shiver: was saying that one of the 900$ mackie heads was really good- but having had one of their boards when I was first starting out, I'm not real eager to be a Mackie guy again unless reliable sources say it's a decent amp.
Old 11th June 2003
Lives for gear
littledog's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Battle -

I was editing/adding to my post when you already responded, so you may want to reread it in case there is some stuff you missed.

It's been a while since I checked prices, but I think the EV SX300 can be found for around $400 street price apiece. You'll need a pair of speaker stands too. ($150?) If the cheaper SX100 is still available, that would be fine for your one floor wedge. Otherwise, just try to find some used at garage sales, etc.

A good quality power amp like the QSC, unfortunately is going to cost around $1000. You may be able to find some old Carver's, etc. on e-bay or in your local want-ads and save $400 bucks or so... For boards, if you want to go a step up from the Mackie, the Crest XR series would be the next incremental jump, but would probably cost you over $1500, so the budget is already blown.

If you only need a half-dozen mic's or less, I'd just go with one of the small Mackie or Soundcraft boards for a couple of hundred dollars - you can always upgrade. Lexicon and Digitech, among others, have reverb boxes perfectly adequate for live sound for $200 or less. You may be able to get away without compression for a while.

You'll also need speaker cables, mics, and mic stands.
Old 11th June 2003
Gear Addict
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I've found the JBL EON series of powered PA/monitors to be very good sounding, with a very handy all-in-one configuration. Loud and clean, and relatively hi-fi compared to most of the crap you see around. I know a cellist who used it as his personal live amp, and he could blast the guitarists off the stage! I'm sure you sacrifice some config flexibility, but the convenience and sound are very nice, and within your budget.
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