A PA System may seem complex and quite scary if you are new to them, but there is nothing to fear, they are here to enhance your sound and help show it off to the world. A PA System is used to deliver clarity and definition to your sound, so it is important you spend time looking at what you need and how it is going to affect your sound.
OK, so what is a PA system? Well, a Public Address System (also known as a Sound Reinforcement System) is an electronic amplification system that is used to project sound from the performer(s) to the audience. Each system can be vastly different, but there are always the same basic functions:
The first thing you need to think of would be the size of the audience you are performing to? This will determine how big speakers you need along with the power of them. In conjunction with this it is important to think about the environment you are going to be playing in because you won’t need a massive PA System to fill a smaller, cramped venue. You will then need to think about how portable you need the system to be, how much space do you have to transport it? Speakers can be very big and heavy, but there are great portable PA systems out there like the Laney 4X4. Finally, you will need to set a budget as you can spend lots of your money on PA’s and speakers.
Now you can purchase a PA System as 1 whole “package”, which will include the mixer, speaker, cables and sometimes microphones. Or you can purchase these items separately, it just completely depends on your budget and what your needs are. You can get something like the Alesis PA System In A Box which is a great set up. It has the speakers and a mixer, so all you’ll need to add is speaker stands and microphones. This is great if you are starting with live sound and don’t want to be lugging heavy speakers around (which trust me, isn’t very fun!). However, there are benefits from getting bigger speakers and separate mixer as you can tailor them to your needs; whether you need more power, more monitors or more channels. You can also gain more control over your sound by having outboard signal processors, dedicated power amps and a number of individual PA and monitor speaker cabinets. Obviously this all increases the cost, but I would recommend the Alesis Transactive Wireless 2 PA System, these give you a very good sound quality and have lots of power. It also depends on the size of gig you are looking at doing because you won’t need lots of power for smaller venues.
PA Systems aren’t something to be scared of at all, they need to be embraced because they can make a huge difference to your sound. Just make sure you take your time and get what it is you need and are comfortable with using.
Let me know if you have any questions.