What PA does your band use?


As we get closer to gigging, the question of a decent pa is being asked. We’ll probably be playing 100-300 person rooms and I have questions.

Are two 15 inch tops (1000w) gonna be enough?
One sub or two, if only one where do you place it?
my band hire a PA system from a local sound engineer, does exactly what we need it to.

two 15 inch tops, two 18 inch subs. P-audio subs, FBT tops. the tops are only 400w/800w peak a side, so its not the power of them, its the quality of the drivers ive noticed :)

your 15 inch tops would do the job for what you need, are they active or passive? :)

as for placement, we have one sub either side with a top mounted on a pole on them :)
Most of my gigs they rent pro sound and a tech, but for smaller gigs without micing, little QSC digital boards and EV or JBL cabs on poles + 1 sub is a very popular combo. If you want to put everything thru the PA, Behringer X32 seems to rule budget PA world these days.
Figure minimum 2 watts per audience member. You can put a single subwoofer anywhere up front of the stage. One of the bands that I'm in uses two Electrovoice 15 inch powered speakers (on stands) and a Mackie unpowered 16 channel mixer. We also have a separate PA system for a monitor system.

Sometimes we hire a sound company. Hiring a sound guy is definitely easier but it costs $ 200 to $ 300. Hiring a sound guy might be the way to go for bigger gigs, say over 500 people.
We use QSC 12" subs with 12" tops, all powered. We dont come close to maxxing them out. To be fair, we haven't played many 300 person rooms, but 150+ is a regular occurrence, and as I said, we have plenty of headroom to spare. There are a couple rooms where we've thought we might bring two more similar mains, the subs we have are sufficient.

I would think it might also depend on what kind of stuff you'll be playing.
When the Devo tribute band goes out, I carry a Yamaha TF Rack console (controllable by iPad via WiFi router), and we plug everything into it. Our in-ear monitor mix is also routed through this console. Then the house gets my L/R and Sub outputs to their system, and their soundman then mixes us via the ipad. So far we've been lucky because most audio guys we run into at these venues are knowledgable about this type of mixing. Most of them prefer it now.
If we have to provide output, I also have two 15" Peavey tops and a single JBL 18" woofer. All of these are passive and I carry separate amps for the tops and the sub. My QSC PowerLight amp is able to push each top with 1300W per speaker. And the Sub gets a Crown amp that's bridged mono pushing 1000W into it.
Our PA is a pair of Electro-Voice ZLX-15BT speakers on Gator Frameworks stands (I don't know their model number but we bought them at Sweetwater last summer). We do not have subs. We have the matching bags for the speakers because they scuff easily, and also a matching Gator bag for the stands.

Our mixer is a Behringer XRAir18. We use an external router for it because its internal wifi signal is very weak. This digital mixer, like most, operates via wifi with laptops (nice big screen), tablet computers (nice big screen), and phones (little screen). I use my personal PC laptop and a Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (on a mic stand with a K&M clamp on it) to control it.

Our monitors are individual in-ears (the mixer has six monitor outs). My bandmates use the basic Shure IEMs with Behringer P2 amps and I use a triple driver Mackie pair with Behringer P1 amp because it has an in-line current limiter to protect my ears from sudden loud noise.

We have only played a few small gigs and everything worked well and I assume it would continue to work well up to maybe 300 people (may have to gets subs then).

Additional questions you may (eventually) have are:

1. Who will buy these things? I recommend each piece of equipment be purchased and owned by one person (not necessarily the same person) in order to avoid awkward future negotiations about reimbursing each other for depreciating group assets if someone leaves the band. Our lead singer/MD bought our PA, mixer, stands, and bags himself (thank you singer/MD!!!) so if he goes they go; but if I go I'm not out any money.

2. Where will these things be stored? My band rehearses at my house and so everything is at my house. This, for better or for worse, makes me the default sound guy since I am the only one that can tinker with the gear whenever I want. I figure doing this service will eventually balance me out with the singer that bought all the gear, although I am not very good at it so I may never balance him out.

Have fun!
We use two powered RCF 12" tops for anything up to a 150 person gig. We add 15"subs for anything bigger or anything outdoors.
QSC Touchmix 16 digital desk. Our sound guy subscribes to the theory that a smaller rig run hotter (6/8's of max) sounds better than a bigger rig set on 1/2....... May or may not be true - I don't know enough to argue.
We use two powered RCF 12" tops for anything up to a 150 person gig. We add 15"subs for anything bigger or anything outdoors.
QSC Touchmix 16 digital desk. Our sound guy subscribes to the theory that a smaller rig run hotter (6/8's of max) sounds better than a bigger rig set on 1/2....... May or may not be true - I don't know enough to argue.
That's pretty much what we use, we've got one massive sub though that muggins here has to lug about. Think the desk is a soundcraft.

If you're playing venues with over 150 folk the venue should have an in house PA
Good question..we subcontract our soundmen. He has a couple of guys help him set up hours befor we do our thing. Lots of big cabinets and an array of microphones etc etc. He also does work for up and coming country acts..outdoor festivals etc.
Most of my acts don't actually use their own PA. It's always provided by the venues, however the majority of my groups DO use the X-Air and X-32 systems by Behringer. This allows us to all do our own in-ear mixes however w like without effecting anything else. We also can have control over the FOH mix, and just hand the sound engineer a L and R and tell them to "turn it up."
Each band I play in has vastly different PA systems. It boils down to volume and the type of sound we’re after.

The 50’s Rock n’ Roll band just uses a vocal PA, 12” speakers on sticks. Amps and drums play live. Sometimes a kick mic is added, barely audible, but the overall sound is clear vocals with the band behind, not too loud.

But the 11 piece cover band mics everything into a Midas rack mount mixer with ipad control, and a pair of EV Evolve 50 “stick on a sub” main speakers. These speakers are amazing! These carry sound further into the room, have a wide sideways dispersion too, but are not too loud when you stand up close. Light to carry, easy to set up. Highly recommended!
Old school analog for me, 2 Mackie Onyx 1640i, connected via a Mackie mixer combiner that gives me 32 channels with 6 Aux, 8 sub mixes and main. So, drums could be 12 mics, 3 rack toms, one floor, 2 kick mics, 2 OH, 4 mics on Snares (2 Snares, top and bottom for each) and HiHat. Rest is percussions or Horns depending of what we play, second Mackie is 4 vocals, 2 channels for keys, 3 channels for guitars and 2 for bass, rest is 2 drumboxes, one percussions module, click track etc..
Little gig, one Mackie only, with 5 mics on drums.
2 top of Yorkville PS-10P, my former monitors plus 2 subs 12". We rent the subs. If bigger gigs, we rent 2 top 12" and subs re 15", same brand, Yorkville, very famous in Canada and rental fees are really cheap at Long and Mc Quade and the 10" are more for the side of the room, so p, a bit more wide dispersion.
When I will have some cash, I think I will buy some used subs, the 12" or the 15". Issue with 12" is a bit small for big kick and bass sound and we play dance and funk but they are super easy to move, the 15" are enough but super heavy!!!
If we play regularly again (which seems to not be the case for a long time now according to the figures about Pandemic we have in Winnipeg), I might invest in the Allen and Health QU24, so, I could leave the Mackies plugged in the basement for recording and for the studio at home...
Determining your sound system should be based on meeting volume needs and providing adequate coverage. PAs don't cover people; they cover area. Next is quality of sound, weight, price, warranty/service, etc. You said nothing about your budget. You also did not say if you need monitors, mixer, mics, stands, cables, etc.

Are most of the rooms long and narrow or short and wide? Are you better with 90° horns or 60° horns? Perhaps you want rotatable horns? Do you want powered or passive boxes? The benefit of powered is all the processing is done for you, along with the protection. The downside is you need to run power to each main speaker.

By the way, don't concern yourself with watts. They tell you little about how loud a speaker gets, and they certainly tell you nothing about how good a speaker sounds at that level. Schedule speaker demos at your local sound companies. Better yet, rent for your first 3 or 4 gigs. Try different brands to get a feel for what you like.

If you use subs, go with 12" tops as they tend to be less muddy than 15". And they're lighter, which means they're a hell of lot easier to lift onto speaker stands. Most of the bands in my area provide their own sound and most do not use subs. It's extra gear and extra load in/load out work for no extra pay. And the bass drum is usually plenty loud for typical bars around here. Several bands do use them to reinforce the bass drum and they do have a fuller sound. If you play outside and provide the PA, then you'll definitely need subs.
Tumbao, the latin band whose drummer I am, has a guy named Bill with a great sounding PA who we hire regularly.

I also own some PA pieces that I can put together to make a working PA. It's a little bit of a hodge-podge but it works, is very loud, and sounds really good. Generally speaking it is installed in my studio for synth bass reproduction; Crown Microtech 2400 power amp, JBL MRX515 tops, and an EV ELX200 18" sub. The sub has a built-in crossover, which feeds into the Crown... one of these days I'll invest in a proper pair of powered tops, and consider my personal PA finished.
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If I was going to build a pa, I'd go modular. There are way more features on un-powered mixers than there are with powered ones.
Our Yamaha 8×XLR input, 800 watt brain is nice and simple but limited in what kinds of outputs we can hook up to- and can only be controlled by twiting knobs
When searching for appropriate PA gear, quality trumps wattage ratings every time. What I call "DJ ratings" are often used to inflate expected performance, & such equipment is almost always a disappointment. There's no single specification measure that will tell you everything you need to know, but if you must filter choice by specification, then ?db SPL is a fair comparator.

For 100 - 300 audience indoors, a pair of quality active 15" tops is a good foundation start. If you want to reinforce the bass drum substantially, there's no substitute for moving air, and a high quality 18" sub will offer extension. A single sub can be placed pretty much anywhere so long as it's away from a corner or rear wall.

In our personal experience, we get great returns from QSC KW series tops. Pretty much bombproof in terms of reliability. KW153's are especially impressive for the money, but they are bulky. QSC subs are good too, although we prefer Logic System 5th order bandpass 18's to partner with KW153's. If using a sub / subs, driving from a separate sub output on your desk will offer greater control in the room & keep things cleaner.

A good desk is a must. Allen & Heath QU 16 / 24 (depending on size of act) is a fabulous compact tool with real depth of facility but a very intuitive analogue style control surface (great for digital sub menu averse old farts like me).

Although buying quality is the key to a great sound, be mindful of how your gigging profile may change over time in terms of how much $ you're prepared to invest. My band has had a good ROI on our gear, but we currently find we're only using our own PA perhaps 2 or 3 times / year.