Me and my band need a PA system in our practice room. The vocals, keyboard and bass would go through it.
How much do we have to spend to have something somewhat decent and what model do you reccomend?
It doesnt have to have any built in effects.
A mixer, a power amp and a pair of speakers with speaker stands should more than do you.

One option is the Carvin LS1503 (under $300 each, will handle up to 800W each), a Carvin HD1500 (900W to an 8 ohm load, single speaker cab, or 1500W RMS to a 4 ohm load, two speaker cabs), and that runs about $319. The mixer is up to you, but make sure you have enough inputs for drums, just in case (usually about five mikes all by themselves). Keys often want at least two (stereo), and you should leave open the option of running the guitar (via a modeler) through it as well. Modelers can often run a pair of inputs (two separate rigs or stereo FX) as well.
It is important to find out if you're OK buying used as this is where you can find a fantastic deal.

For $400 I got a 1000 watt Peavey power amp (heavy as f*&k) and 2 500 watt JBL speakers that are an older model but sound great. I already have a few old mixer desks and some multifx if needed, but for another $100 - $150 you can easily find a decent used desk in good condition.

If you want to buy new you can get the Samson

Would proper cover rehearsal room duties but you'd need a small mixing desk to add to these, maybe Yamaha MG124CX or MG10XU.
Last edited by diabolical at May 29, 2015,
Yeah, and I have a pair of Altec A7 cabinets I can let you have cheap. But you have to pick them up in LA <G>.
Buying used is what I'll do, that's for sure. How many watts are required at least?
and what should I look for in a mixer? So I'd need one channel for bass, one for vocals, two for keyboard. I'm not sure about the drums. So practically a 4 channel input, 5 maybe for a second mic for backup vocals.
Quote by Jayerrr
Buying used is what I'll do, that's for sure. How many watts are required at least?

That depends on the efficiency of your speakers and on the general loudness of your band.
If you're running bass through the PA, you're going to want serious wattage and speaker cabinets capable of reproducing that. 300W ain't going to cut it (experience talking). Buying for a PA is nothing like buying for guitar.

Watts are cheap. That Carvin power amp (1500W for $319) will seem like overkill to most guitar players, but not to a sound guy. Distortion is NOT something you want from your PA system, so lots of headroom and lots of power to reproduce bottom end cleanly without "farting out" is very important. In order for a speaker to reproduce a note an octave down at the same volume as the original note, it needs to move four times as much air.

Running most things through the PA is smart (IMHO). We've set up practice with the drummer and PA on one side of the room facing us. This (and a lot of foam behind us) keeps the mikes out of the PA, eliminates feedback, allows us to hear both ourselves and the drummer as we'll be heard, and the exhaust fan above the drummer allows us to be upwind.
Quote by Jayerrr
and what should I look for in a mixer? So I'd need one channel for bass, one for vocals, two for keyboard. I'm not sure about the drums. So practically a 4 channel input, 5 maybe for a second mic for backup vocals.

I'd go for something like this at a minimum:


It's a Harbinger L1202FX 12-channel mixer with FX. $109 at Guitar Denter. It's cheap, but adequate. It's got all the most important bits and all the minimums that you're going to want at some point and bitch about if you don't have it on the mixer. A drum set is usually a five-mike deal, but the ONLY reason you'd want to do that for practice is if your drummer has an electronic drum set (highly recommended, by the way) and if he has that, he'll have his own mixer. This one has four mike inputs and the rest of the inputs are where instruments will go.

I use something like this for my own gear -- the Bass Pod XT can run stereo into this, the guitar Pod HD can run stereo into this, the pair of keyboards can each have their own stereo input (that just accounted for eight of the inputs) and then there are the four vocal inputs. I can then output to external power amps for the "house" speakers, to a second output to another power amp or powered speakers for monitors, and there's a headphone system that can listen to things without the drum noise (if you set up the way we do, drum noise through the mikes will be minimized). You can switch tne mikes in and out of the FX so that can have reverb, etc. on the vocals and NOT on the instruments (a good thing), and so on.

There are all kinds of reasons to buy a more expensive mixer, but this one is adequate without being overkill, and it's a great piece as a budget buy.
Last edited by dspellman at May 30, 2015,
Quote by Jayerrr
Those active speakers I found used have 1000W. Is that enough?


Depends on how those 1000W are rated (is it RMS watts?) and how they're used.

Understand this: manufacturers lie. Mackie has a speaker setup that's supposed to have 500W of power in a powered speaker. That's "peak" or "program" power. I think we dug into the specs and found that the actual power (RMS) available continuously was around 125-150. Worse, when we ran their frequency response on an RTA, the peaks and valleys really colored things badly, and the bass and treble response were badly overstated.

QSC has its K12 systems (which are excellent), but they divide it 500W/500W for highs and lows, and 500W for the highs is wasting about 450W if the HF is actually balanced to the low end. And they'll freely admit that it's not 1000W RMS. It's still a very good piece, but the specs are overblown by the Marketing Department for the consumer crowd.

Professional-grade gear doesn't get to play those games with professional sound people, so they'll state their specs clearly and accurately or risk alienating those pros.
Look at Yamaha MG124CX or MG10XU as I already suggested. Keyboard will go into line stereo input, you'll have 4 mic inputs on the MG10XU, more on the MG124CX.
If you go used, look for Mackie, Yamaha, Allen and Heath mixers.

Last edited by diabolical at May 30, 2015,
You should be able to find a good used PA for practice or small gigs for $400-500. Bands are breaking up all the time and unloading stuff pretty cheap. I found a Yamaha powered mixer and some really nice Yam S115IV speakers for $400 to use as an event PA. It sounds very good and is way loud enough for practice or small gigs. I think the mixer was 200w RMS and the speakers are very efficient so lots of sound/watt (123db). I would run the bass through a 80hz HPF so it doesn't suck up all your amp power and you are good to go.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY