#1
This is probably a very nooby question, but if you have a cab (like a 2x12 or 4x12) do you need a PA system when playing at small venues. I guess that you wouldn't at small venues. I guess you would just need a mixer? (very simple setup yes)

Thanks!
#2
Most venues have an in-house PA system, so for 90% of cases the question is kinda moot.

However, for those 10%, you probably need one. If you have a vocalist, you need one. If you want to be heard anywhere other than the first 5 rows, you need one.
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#3
So long as you have a decent amp, it should be enough for most smaller venues without needing to be mic'ed up to a PA. If you're playing somewhere big enough, they'll usually have someone to sort that side of things out for you.

But for the sort of bars most amateur/part-time bands play, you'll still need a PA for the vocals even if you don't run the guitars through it.
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#4
most the small gigs i played didn't require me to run my guitar through a PA. we just used the PA for vocals.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
#5
for most applications i say a 4x12 is useless. you cannot deny it will sound full, huge, and cut through. give massive bottom end for high gain / metal. however, for logistical reasons, trasnport, and space, i say its kinda dumb.

mot cases a good 2x12 is good or overkill, and when miced, a 1x12 will do the job just fine.

the reason is, if you are playing a legit venue, chances are they have a speaker system to cover the whole bar / venue. this will of course disperse sound better. you mic up 1 speaker, and run sound through the whole venue. so the fact that you have a 4x12 is semi negated.

now, on stage, generally a proper setup runs wedged in front for the band, so it puts sounds back at the players so they can hear what the crow hears / can your yourself playing.

i know many career musicians that will play any venue and they have a 5000 dollar 1x12, 15 watt amp. why? because it is custom made, sounds amazing, and EVERYWHERE they play, he mics the amp into the sound system.

95% of bar bands i see have a guy running a fender blues junior. and they always sound great (if the production is setup well.

times a bigger setup is valued:
a loud drummer / band

practice areas where a full PA is not in use

outdoor venues with a poor or no PA

large crowded packed places where sometimes you just need a lot of power on all levels to overcome drunk people and you need watts for cleans and good base for thick sounding riffing

heavy music / metal where high power and lots of base is needed for a good tone
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#6
Thanks for the advice guys. The reason I'm asking this is because my band have a gig on Xmas eve and the place doesn't have a PA and neither do we as we are quite new and all still in high school = no/low income. Luckily, one of my friends has a PA that were borrowing. I don't know how good but it'll do this time. For the future it would probably be cheaper and more practical getting a good PA rather than cabs? As you guys said, they usually have PA system, therefore cabs are quite pointless, but our PA would sort of be a backup if they don't have one.
#7
well no....cabs are not pointless. guitar speakers have a large effect on tone, and generally you need to mic up the cab to get the PA. but having massive cabs are not generally needed.

what type of music do you play?

and somebody must have a PA. how do you get the vocals loud? the question is, generally you need enough inputs into the PA for your instruments. for example a band might mic up:

3-4 parts of the drums
bass guitar
guitar
vocals (lets say 2)

thats 8 channels on the mixer. and thats a small band.

but yes, if you are going to gig a lot, you will definitely want a quality PA system over guitar cabs. i mean gear is gear, dont skimp if you can, but if you dont have a good PA, you really dont have much at all.
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#8
We play mainly classic rock stuff.

This is our first gig away from the school and I know we are not very well prepared, but first on our list will be a decent PA and mixer. None of us have a huge amount to spend so it we will need to make do without cabs and stuff.
#9
Quote by Cing Krimson
For the future it would probably be cheaper and more practical getting a good PA rather than cabs? As you guys said, they usually have PA system, therefore cabs are quite pointless...


i have seen you make such statements elsewhere (like in your other thread). i am a little confused by this and i am not sure if this is a point of confusion so i feel compelled to state this plainly:

a cabinet is a box that contains a speaker, a set of speakers, or a 2 or 3-way speaker system. if you don't have a cabinet somewhere then you have no speakers and no one will hear you.

1) your guitar amps need a cab. even if your guitar amp is a combo, it just means the cab is built into the same enclosure as the amplifier. all guitar amp's should have their own cabinet, else it's not really a guitar amp it's a signal processor...

2) if you are using a signal processor, like a line 6 pod or digitech rp1000 (etc), then you will need a separate amplifier that consists of a power amp and a speaker cabinet

3) a PA is a catchall statement for a system that includes some kinda mixer to provide independent preamps for multiple instruments, a power amp to amplify the signal from the mixer, and speaker cabinets to change the electric signal from the power amp into a mechanical/acoustic sound.

so i am not really sure what you mean when you say: "would it be cheaper and more practical getting a good PA rather than cabs". it kinda sound like you wanna get something like 4x12 cabs for your guitar amps, which aren't gonna do much to make you any louder or sound better for an audience.

either way your guitar amp is gonna need some kinda cab, your PA is going to also need some kinda cab. you will need 'cabs' (aka speaker cabinets).
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
Last edited by gumbilicious at Dec 8, 2013,
#10
I know that they're speakers, but I was talking in the sense of how the stores usually categorise their amplifiers (combo, heads or cabs). Maybe I should have rephrased my title to "Do you need a PA system if you have a Head + speaker cabinet setup". And budget wise, I can't afford everything for an amazing PA and a head + cabinet speaker for my guitar, so it might be better if I ask it like this: if you had your first gig coming up, and you're the guitarist, and you didn't have that much to spend, would you rather buy a head + cabinet speaker or a PA system?
#11
Or is the confusion (of myself) that I should have a PA system whether or not I'm looking to buy a head + speaker cabinet?
#12
If you plan on gigging, you should have a PA.
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#13
Quote by Cing Krimson
I know that they're speakers, but I was talking in the sense of how the stores usually categorise their amplifiers (combo, heads or cabs). Maybe I should have rephrased my title to "Do you need a PA system if you have a Head + speaker cabinet setup".


alright, this makes a bit more sense. the answer to this is simple: it doesn't matter if your amp is a combo or if it is piggyback style (separate head and cabinet).

i know it looks as though a piggyback/stack style amp is way louder and more professional sounding than a combo, but that is an erroneous distinction. regardless of combo/stack arrangement, you must judge the amp on how well it performs.

to be honest, open back combos tend to disperse sound more evenly than a closed back stack-style amp. this makes them more ideal if you are only using your guitar amp (with no PA) in a live setting. if your combo isn't quite loud enough then position it up off the floor closer to ear level and place the amp roughly 6 to 8 feet from a wall, this will help maximize sound projection.

Quote by Cing Krimson
And budget wise, I can't afford everything for an amazing PA and a head + cabinet speaker for my guitar, so it might be better if I ask it like this: if you had your first gig coming up, and you're the guitarist, and you didn't have that much to spend, would you rather buy a head + cabinet speaker or a PA system?


you should be asking yourself: "is my amp loud enough for this gig"

if your amp is not loud enough then you will probably need a new amp. if you are trying to make some 15 watt practice amp with an 6" speaker work for you then you probably need a new amp.

that being said, if your budget is real tight then you probably wouldn't be able to afford an amp worth upgrading to anyway.

this is all pure speculation cuz i have no idea what your budget is or what your current amp is anyway. useful advice would require such information.

furthermore: PA. if you have vocals then you will probably need at least a small PA system (like a powered monitor) so the singer can be heard. you haven't mentioned if you even need to amplify vocals.

if you get a small PA just suitable for vocals then it will do very little in the way of amplifying your guitar signal any further (and such anemic PA's tend to muddy intensely when running more than vocals and maybe an acoustic through them). so basically you are asking the wrong questions and we don't have enough info to give you useable advice.

edit: just to give you an idea my PA is just suitable for mainly vocals, i can run a keyboard and an acoustic through it if i wanted to as well. i don't run the bass or electric guitars through it cuz my amps are louder than the PA could ever get.

i run a 200 watt head with 2x10 cabinets on stands. it cost ~350 bucks, i mainly use it for monitoring practices rather than live gigging, but it works for small shows.



if you want to run your whole band through a PA i'd recommend a much larger system, with at least 500 watts (more like 1000 watts, probably with a separate 1000 to 2000 watt amp for subs). i'd also want bass bins and 15" speaker cabs, and nice 16 channel mixer (at least).

for the budget you are most likely looking at you will probably end up with some PA that looks like this:



it will pretty much just be good for vocals and maybe an acoustic guitar. a powered monitor would probably be better than that.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
Last edited by gumbilicious at Dec 8, 2013,
#14
Thanks so much gumbilicious, your explanation was very helpful. I'm just getting a bit worried because we have our first proper gig coming up and I had no idea how a PA or anything worked. Our bass amp and guitar amp should be loud enough, my guitar amp is a laney VC15 but it is pretty loud, I have it just above 1 when I practice at home and it's a tube amp so it's got a good sound. As for the drums they should be loud enough on their own without mics because it's a small venue and our drummer smashes the **** out of his drum kit! As for vocals, we are borrowing our friends PA. I have no idea what it's like but it will hopefully be enough. Do you think the amps will have fine sound quality on their own, and I just mean will they not sound terrible? Sorry for being such a tech noob, I'm just stressing out a bit and also just thinking ahead for future gigs. Thankfully, our drummer does the sound for school events etc so he will know more than me on this sort of stuff! I just want to know how this stuff works for myself!
#15
the vc15 should work. just do as i recommend and lift it off the floor a bit and it should be fine. i used to play small gigs with a similar amp (orange tiny terror 15 watt).

i'd just try to use the borrowed PA for vocals exclusively in your case. don't worry about running anything else through it.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
#17
Unless you are playing nothing but instrumental music how can you do a gig without a PA?
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#18
unless you are doing coffee shop type things, and only micing vocals and maybe 1 other thing, i dont even think 4 inputs is enough. for a late night bar band i think 6 is minimum, 8 ok, more than 8 you are solid. if you band is more than 5 peices you need a BIG system.
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#19
It doesn't matter how many channels you have, you always need one more.

Rule o' thumb; get twice as many channels as you think you need.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Dec 8, 2013,
#20
Quote by Cathbard
It doesn't matter how many channels you have, you always need one more.

yeah, the infamous n+1 theorum: you need n+1 inputs where n is the number of inputs on the mixer.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
#21
Just to further confuse things...

Old school bands required each musician to have enough amplification power for his instrument to overcome the drummer. The PA was reserved for the vocals, and IT had to have enough power to overcome the drummer and all those instrument amplifiers. You still run into these gigs.

Most of the clubs here in LA have their own sound systems and the sound guys want to control pretty much everything about the sound, which includes the instruments. They actually *hate* to see someone straining to haul in a 4x12, because it usually means that the first few rows of the audience on axis with the thing are going to be complaining about ear-splitting treble. These guys mike (or direct-in) everything through a mixer, including the drums. They might even make the guitar player turn the 4x12 around and face the back of the stage (there'll be a mike on it). Guitar players have to get used to hearing themselves through stage monitor wedges or even IEM (In-Ear Monitors).

At that point, you really don't even need an amp. You can walk in with a preamp or a modeler like the Line 6 Pod HD or an Axe-FX and simply run it into the mixer.

I worked with a couple of bands that actually ran everything into a mixer, even for practice. The drums were an electronic set and we all had headphones as monitors. Someone coming in from outside would hear a bit of tappity tap (the drums), some muted twanging (whatever the guitars' acoustic sound produced) and some people singing what sounded like a capella harmonies. Until they put on one of the spare sets of headphones. The times, they are a-changin'.
#22
We're a 4 piece band so 1 for vocals, 1 guitar 1 bass and at least 2 for drums? And maybe 1 backing vocals (although none of us do that just now). How many do you usually have for drums, and would an 8 channel be enough for that setup?
#23
Quote by Cing Krimson
We're a 4 piece band so 1 for vocals, 1 guitar 1 bass and at least 2 for drums? And maybe 1 backing vocals (although none of us do that just now). How many do you usually have for drums, and would an 8 channel be enough for that setup?


Buy a 16 channel. That's really my personal minimum, and you'll get there very quickly. I usually figure five (two overs, two unders and a kick) for a drumset, one each for vocals, one per instrument. The prototype here would probably be something like the Allen&Heath MixWizard 3 or 4, though you've got lots of wiggle room with some of the newer electronic gizmos and you've also got some wiggle room on cheaper boards. But the specs on a MixWiz3 or 4 16:2 will get you started. http://www.allen-heath.com/uk/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?CatId=MixWizard4Series&ProductId=MixWizard4122

You can fudge a lot around these specs, but I'd use these for a baseline.
#24
Quote by dspellman
Old school bands required each musician to have enough amplification power for his instrument to overcome the drummer. The PA was reserved for the vocals, and IT had to have enough power to overcome the drummer and all those instrument amplifiers. You still run into these gigs.

You make it sound like that's a setup from the past!

Every local band I know of uses this setup. It's the standard setup for a band doing the pub/club scene.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Dec 9, 2013,
#25
Quote by GaryBillington
You make it sound like that's a setup from the past!

Every local band I know of uses this setup. It's the standard setup for a band doing the pub/club scene.

+1 most smaller places I have seen or played never have a PA or they have a total crap one. Probably 1/2 the gigs I play vocals and bass drum/snare are all that is running through the PA.

I actually prefer to do it like this in a small venues. My amp sounds like shite turned on 1 so the "sound guy" can set me in the mix
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#26
Quote by Cing Krimson
We're a 4 piece band so 1 for vocals, 1 guitar 1 bass and at least 2 for drums? And maybe 1 backing vocals (although none of us do that just now). How many do you usually have for drums, and would an 8 channel be enough for that setup?


i ran a 3 piece band. if i was miking almost everything it was

-2 mics for guitar (i used at least 2 amps)
-1 mic for bass
-1 line in for bass
-3 mics for vocals (everyone had a mic)
-4 mics for drums (snare, kick, 2 overheads)

invariably there was another necessity, like an extra line in for a keyboard or something.

you may be able to make an 8 channel work

-1 or 2 mics for guitar (depending on number of guitar players)
-1 mic for bass
-3 for drums (2 overheads, kick)
-2 vocal mics

you may even be able to do just one overhead for drums or leave out a vocal mic. depends on how your band works.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
#27
Overheads are the last drum mikes you need, the most important one is the kick drum.

One you did miss though, gumbi - one channel for a piezo equipped acoustic guitar. There's always one more.
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#28
agreed, most gigs i'd rather have a mic on the snare rather than the overheads. but the times i have needed to really mic a kit (outdoor festivals) it was necessary to use overheads too.

and i tended to use overhead mics over a snare mic when recording and i didn't have enough inputs.

Quote by Cathbard
One you did miss though, gumbi - one channel for a piezo equipped acoustic guitar. There's always one more.


sorry, my band doesn't do any jewel covers



punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
Last edited by gumbilicious at Dec 9, 2013,
#29
My band just started doing a Pink acoustic number so I had to find another channel for my acoustic at the last gig. My limitation wasn't my desk though, it was the multicore.
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#30
We've got a pa with mixer sorted now, thank god! But all that's going in it just now are vocals, so I'm wondering if you can use a vocal mic for the amplifier to go into the pa instead of a condenser mic? Will it make much of a difference? We don't have access to condenser mics.
#31
Nobody uses condensers on stage. The standard is a Shure SM57 but you can use a vocals mic like an SM58 too.
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#33
The only difference between a 57 and a 58 is the spit/pop filter. Either work equally as well in front of an amp.
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#35
yeah, i have 4 SM58's and i use them on an instrument all the time if i run outta 57's.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
#37
Look for a used Peavey PVM45. You can usually score them pretty cheaply. Used instrument mikes are ok because people aren't spitting into them.
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Cathbard Amplification
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#38
Quote by Cathbard
The only difference between a 57 and a 58 is the spit/pop filter. Either work equally as well in front of an amp.

and on the 57 the diaphram is set back a little further in the casing
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