As a performing musician, capturing, mixing, and amplifying your sound involves choosing a live sound system that’s well matched to your music, budget, and the venues in which you play. In this guide we’ll walk you through all the live sound gear you need, tell you how it works, and help you find the right PA equipment to make your music sound its best.
As a performing musician you want a PA system that can deliver your sound with clarity and definition. But with so many different pieces of equipment designed for different live performance needs, it can be difficult to know just what it is you should be looking for.
Certainly, there are a lot of variables to consider when choosing a PA. For instance, you'll need to think about the size of your audience, where your performances will be, how portable you need your system to be and how much money you can invest.
This guide will help walk you through these and other important considerations to help you find the gear that's right for you, whether you're buying your first PA system or looking to add equipment to your existing system.
PA Systems in a Nutshell
In short, a PA system—more formally, public address system, and also known as a sound reinforcement system—is an electronic amplification system used to get sound from the performer(s) to the audience. It's made up of several components, and while one system can vary greatly from the next, each one handles these same basic functions:
1. Converting acoustic sound into electronic signals, most often with microphones or line inputs.
2. Processing and mixing these electronic signals, using mixing boards and effects modules
3. Amplifying signals with a power amp
4. Delivering the sound through speakers
5. Monitoring the performance with speakers or in-ear monitors
6. Different PA equipment will have different capabilities, features, and designs associated with each of these functions. Your specific needs will determine what you want out of each.
Prepackaged PA Systems
If you don’t want to get too deeply into the nuts and bolts of PA equipment, you might want to consider one of our complete, live sound PA system packages that include everything you need to get up and running. If you're new to PA gear, these systems can help you avoid the problems that can arise from mismatched PA components. And by purchasing bundled gear, you can save a lot of money.