You’re ready to dive into the realm of live sound and your first question is "What is the best PA Speaker?" American Musical Supply is your stop for everything in the world of loudspeakers, whether you’re buying your first pair of PA speakers or upgrading your current Pro Audio rig. We’re confident that you’ll find the right speakers for your needs at the right price!
When it comes to speakers, AMS has a huge selection of models for all situations and the expertise to help guide you in your journey. We’re here to educate you about the many different choices that are available. The first question that comes to mind - Should I go with active or passive speakers? Active speakers are also known as powered PA speakers. In recent years, powered speakers have become the choice of musicians looking to build their first PA rig. They contain built-in amplifiers which are specifically tuned to the speakers. This means your powered speakers will sound great regardless of how loud you play. You'll also enjoy knowing that they contain built-in safety measures to protect the speaker components from damage during use. A more comprehensive passive (nonpowered) speaker setup needs to be paired with the proper power amplifier with a dedicated management system to prevent damage that can occur from overload. So if you’re looking for that simple, “plug it in and go” option, a powered speaker is truly an all-in-one solution!
When you look at the back side of a powered speaker you will see the inputs for connecting your gear. The best powered PA speakers have a built-in mixer on the back panel which contains XLR and 1/4” (quarter-inch) inputs for instruments and microphones. They may also include RCA or 1/8” (headphone jack size) inputs that can connect a wide range of audio devices for music playback. With so many connectivity options, you’ll be able to accommodate a wide variety of audio sources! If you have a small setup, the built-in mixer panel works well, but bands that require a larger number of inputs will want to use a separate mixer connected directly into the back of the powered speakers.
DJs, singer-songwriters, and small bands favor powered speakers, but there are situations in which passive speakers work best. If your live sound speakers are being installed in a venue, or you’re looking for an expandable system, a passive setup (unpowered PA Speakers) with a power amplifier is the right choice.
Nowadays, line-array speaker systems are also very popular. These speaker sticks sound great and make for a perfect portable PA system. You, as the musician, benefit since they can be used as both monitors and loudspeakers at the same time. Many of these systems also have built-in DSP (digital signal processing), which allows you to easily customize your audio for the highest quality live sound experience! The DSP normally consists of compression and EQ options, but many models have hundreds of presets, built-in reverb, and a number of other internal effects, making it a true complete PA speaker system.
Both passive and active speakers have 2-way, sometimes 3-way cones, with the top smaller speaker cone acting as the tweeter. The tweeter replicates high frequencies, while the lower cone (or woofer) replicates low frequencies. Inside the speaker is a cross-over that automatically sends the correct frequencies to the proper cone. These types of speakers are designed to faithfully play all of the frequencies within the full spectrum of human hearing.
When you add a subwoofer to your setup, you will greatly enhance the overall sound of a live PA system. PA Subwoofers are also available in both passive and active formats, with both types containing built-in cross-overs. The cross-over is designed to feed low frequency signals directly to the subwoofer, while passing the high and mid-frequency signals on to the satellite speakers. If you have a system with both a subwoofer and two-way speaker, your band or DJ rig will present a full-sounding experience that your audience will not only hear, but also feel. The great thing about subs is you can always add more. If you are playing bass-heavy music, a sub is an absolute must-have!
Powered speakers sometimes have a thru output. Using this output allows you to connect another powered speaker, so you’re now “chaining” together several speakers. Large venues benefit from having one cable feed the main speaker and then the satellite speakers getting the signal from the thru output.
Due to the shape of many power speaker cabinets, you can use them as either a main PA speaker or monitor. You can also mount the speakers on speaker stands to be level with the ears of your audience, or place them directly on the stage. When on the stage as a monitor, the speakers should be angled so that their sound is aimed at the musician. Speaker placement is very important, so take the time to position them properly while also checking the sound going out, and your audience will eagerly be back for more! In addition to the having great PA speakers, the time you invest in designing your setup will pay for itself with the addition of more gigs and events.
Having both main speakers and monitors is a great idea for serious musicians. This allows you to have a specific mix for the band to hear and another mix that the audience will ultimately hear. If you want a mix that is entirely your own, a pair of in-ear monitors will give you flexibility.
While you’re thinking of all the ways to use a new speaker system, you don’t want to overlook the importance of having the right PA Speaker Accessories that will make everything run smoothly and look great! High-quality cables will prevent failure and keep your signal integrity strong and fully intact. It also always a good idea to have a couple extra cables on hand, so remember to label them, pack them, and retrieve them after the show. Just as a guitarist brings their own guitar and a singer brings their own mic, the PA system owner should bring their own cables.
You're also going to want to pick up a pair of speaker stands and covers. Stands allow you to properly position your speakers so the audience hears them in the best possible way and speaker covers will protect them during transport.
American Music Supply always stocks the top-selling PA speakers from the most popular brands in the world! Electro-Voice, QSC, JBL, Bose, and many more – AMS has models suited for every budget! Give us a call to discuss the best speakers for your needs.
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