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    How to Select the Perfect PA System

    Speak up! It’s time to make yourself heard!

    A new PA system from American Musical Supply is the ideal solution to sounding your best and sharing your sound with the world. Each one comes to you complete and is ready to use—some even include microphones. We’ve put together this interactive guide to take some of the “guess-work” out of purchasing a PA system. This guide is focused on those looking to purchase their first complete system; those looking to add a smaller and more portable system for easy transport; or for those looking to step up to a larger, more powerful system.

    You’ve already decided you need a PA system. And, you probably already have some idea of why you need one and where you want to use it. That’s a great start. With just a few simple clicks, this guide will bring you to a few select systems that match your specific needs.

    And while this guide is not for everyone, AMS can also provide everything you need to upgrade your system to suit your changing need. If you are a seasoned sound reinforcement specialist, you are probably ready to put together your own custom system, component by component. No matter which category you fall into, you may want to take a few minutes to read online primer “Power Tools – A Musician’s Guide to the PA System” to review the basics of the venerable PA System.

    Still with us? Let’s get started.

    Question One:

    Venue?
    What type of performance space and/or function will your new PA system be used for?

    Live Music Venues & Band Rehearsals
    Street Musicians
    Meetings & Functions
    Parties & Raves
    Exercise, Dance, and Yoga Instruction

    Live Music Venues & Band Rehearsals

    By far, this will be the most popular use for a PA system. Live venues can include everything from the local coffee house or in-store performance all the way up to a rockin’ club or the local concert hall. In addition, every band needs a basic PA system for their rehearsal space. Here you will find a variety of system configurations. All-in-one systems allow the speakers and the mixer/power module to lock together into a single unit for easy transport. Component systems use individual modules suited to specific tasks, and generally add more versatility. Speaker types include traditional cabinets, pole-mounted loudspeakers, subwoofer and satellite (Sub/Sat) configurations, and column-style line arrays.

    Question Two:

    System Type
    What system configuration do you prefer?
    What system configuration do you prefer?

    In order to answer this question, you need to ask yourself a few questions and answer them honestly:
    How often will you be moving your PA system?
    How large is your primary performance space?
    How large is the vehicle you will use to get to the gig?
    How many people can help you move the PA system?

    You can see where we are heading here. An ultra-portable, all-in-one system may be the right choice once you factor in the space, weight, and number of trips you will need to make to get your PA system from Point A to Point B. In addition, an all-in-one system can be a lot less imposing—and a lot more welcome—to the venue.

    Component systems are created using individual elements—mixer, amp, speakers, etc. Often the power amplifier is combined with the mixer, or integrated into the loudspeakers. The mixer may also contain built-in effects such as reverb, delay, etc. By using individual components, you have the freedom to expand and grow your system by adding or swapping out individual pieces as your needs change.

    Component Systems
    All-In-One Systems

    On the Street and On the Go

    Whether busking on the street, entertaining at the farmer’s market, or gathered round the campfire, a battery powered PA system allows any musician to perform nearly anywhere. Many feature rechargeable and long-lasting internal batteries, as well as the ability to run on AC power—when available. These compact sound systems are designed to travel easily and can easily withstand the rigors of life on the road.

    Battery Powered Mobile PA Systems

    Meetings & Functions

    From pep rallies in the parking light and scouting meetings to shareholders in the boardroom, using a PA system can help make sure your message is heard. American Musical Supply has just what you need to get the job done. Compact systems set up quickly and offer professional results. Housed in a portable package that is stylish and unobtrusive, single-unit systems offer the ultimate in simplicity and ease of use. For organizing groups on the go, try a hand-held PA system—the modern day equivalent of the age-old megaphone!

    Question Two:

    System Type

    Compact Systems
    Single Unit Systems
    Handheld Systems

    Parties & Raves

    Take a PA system with you when you go to a party—or start your own, wherever you are! Add a microphone and a music player (MP3, CD, etc.) and you’re the master of ceremonies. American Musical Supply offers party PA systems that can plug in anywhere, or choose a battery-powered model for on-the-go action. Find the features you need to make your sonic desires come true: Bluetooth inputs; iOS series inputs, wheels, whatever. AMS has it all. We even feature models with built-in party lights.

    Question Two:

    System Type

    AC Powered
    Battery Powered
    With Lights

    Exercise, Dance, & Yoga Instruction

    Sweat it out to the latest exercise craze; practice perfect pirouettes; breath deep and keeps those chakras in line. Falling somewhere in between meetings, parties, and karaoke is an excellent selection of PA systems configured for use at dance class, the yoga studio, drama rehearsals, and music-driven exercise classes. Most have an aux audio input for your MP3 or CD music player; some offer Bluetooth or built-in audio playback. There are many styles and features available inside this category, so look for the ones that meet your needs—onboard audio recording; built-in wireless microphones; wheels and pullout handles; iOS ports; and more. Portable units with rechargeable battery power are ideal for on-the-go use; handheld units offer the ultimate in portability. For a more traditional setup, explore the benefits of an AC-powered system.

    Question Two:

    System Type

    AC Powered
    Battery Powered Systems
    Handheld Systems

    Component Systems

    No matter what type of PA system you choose, you will need to determine how many inputs your system will require. Make a list of the vocal and instrument mics (XLR MIC INPUTS) that will be connected to your PA system, and also how many instrument/line inputs you will need—if any. Many PA mixers feature pairs of line inputs set up to accommodate stereo instruments such as keyboards, etc. Keep this in mind when determining your channel needs.

    Question Three:

    Inputs Required

    1 to 6 Inputs
    6+ Inputs

    All-In-One Systems

    Offering the ultimate in portability, these systems are favored by singer/songwriters and acoustic musicians. However, these compact dynamos can satisfy many other uses as well. To find the one that will work best for your needs, take a moment to consider how many inputs you will need—both mic and instrument—and the size of your potential audience.

    Question Three:

    Inputs Required and Audience Size

    1 to 2 Inputs/Small(10-35)
    2 to 4 Inputs/Medium(35-75)
    4 to 6+ Inputs/Large(75-150)
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Samson XP360B Expedition Express Portable PA with Bluetooth
    Performance
    Samson Expedition XP106 Portable Powered PA with Bluetooth
    Professional
    LD Systems RoadJack 10 Battery Powered Speaker

    Compact Systems

    For meetings and conferences, you may only need one or two mic inputs, but you may also need inputs from a computer, music player (MP3, CD, etc.), or other sound source. Find the correct system for your needs by matching the number of inputs to the size of your potential audience.

    Question Three:

    Inputs Required and Audience Size

    1 to 4 Inputs/Medium(40-70)
    4 to 6+ Inputs/Large(75-150)

    Single Unit Systems

    Plug and play is the name of the game with a single unit system. In addition to a mic or two, be sure you have a spare input or two for a music player or other sounds source. Larger systems offer both more inputs and more power to address a larger group.

    Question Three:

    Inputs Required and Audience Size

    1 to 2 Inputs/Small(10-35)
    2 to 4+ Inputs/Medium(35-75)

    Handheld Systems

    Put some extra power behind your voice! Using a handheld PA system adds a wallop to your voice anywhere you need it—inside or out. Plus, you can save wear and tear on the vocal chords by yelling less and cranking the volume up a bit more.

    Question Three:

    Inputs Required and Audience Size

    1 to 2 Inputs/Small(10-35)

    AC Powered

    Play music from your MP3 player. Plug in a microphone. Add an instrument. Patch in a full DJ mixer. No matter what your party needs are, there is a system that is perfect for you. Enjoy clean, accurate, and professional audio reproduction at your next event.

    Question Three:

    Inputs Required and Audience Size

    1 to 2 Inputs/Small(10-35)
    2 to 4+ Inputs/Medium(40-75)
    2 to 4+ Inputs/Large(75-150)

    Battery Powered

    Wheel it in, switch it on, and start the action. Portable Party PA systems offer rechargeable battery power for the ultimate in on-the-go versatility. Larger systems offer both more inputs and more power to address a larger group.

    Question Three:

    Inputs Required and Audience Size

    1 to 2 Inputs/Small(10-35)

    With Lights

    A party is more than just music! Add a visual element to your party or event with a PA system offering onboard light for the ultimate entertainment environment.

    Lighted Systems

    AC Powered

    Keep the class or crowd moving class to class or day to day with an AC powered PA system that can bring your group to life. Choose the correct crowd size and input range to get the best results for your application.

    Question Three:

    Inputs Required and Audience Size

    1 to 2 Inputs/Small(10-35)

    Battery Powered Systems

    Battery power provides portability and versatility. Use these compact PA systems anywhere and everywhere you go. Just find the size to suit your needs.

    Question Three:

    Inputs Required and Audience Size

    1 to 2 Inputs/Small(10-35)

    Handheld Systems

    Save your voice and put some punch behind your words. Using a handheld PA system adds that extra energy to your voice anywhere you need it—inside or out. Crank it up and keep the class—or crowd—moving!

    Question Three:

    Inputs Required and Audience Size

    1 to 2 Inputs/Small(10-35)

    1 to 6 Inputs

    The last piece of the puzzle is to try and estimate the size of your audience. This will help you determine the correct system for your need. While power ratings can help narrow down your choices, power is not the only measure. Some speakers have a greater efficiency, for example, and can create a higher volume from the same power. Also, keep in mind that 50 Watts may go quite a bit further in a bookstore lounge than in a rocking dance club.

    Question Four:

    Audience Size

    Small(10-35)
    Medium(35-75)

    6+ Inputs

    If you need a large number of inputs, you are probably playing with either a larger band, in a larger venue, or both. Estimating the size of your audience will help you determine the correct system for your need. With the exception of a permanently installed sound system, this type of PA system will provide the best coverage for a larger crowd.

    Question Four:

    Audience Size

    Medium(35-75)
    Large(75-150)
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Gemini MPA3000 Mobile PA System
    Performance
    JBL EON 206P Portable Two-Way PA System
    Professional
    Mackie FreePlay Personal PA
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Fender Passport Event Portable PA System
    Performance
    Fender Passport Event Portable PA System
    Professional
    LD Systems Maui 28 G2 Compact Column PA System
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Gemini ES-210MXBLU Portable PA System
    Performance
    Fender Passport Venue Portable PA System
    Professional
    Yamaha StagePas 600i Portable PA System
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Gemini MPA3000 Mobile PA System
    Performance
    Fender Passport Event Portable PA System
    Professional
    Bose L1 Compact Portable Line Array System
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Fender Passport Event Portable PA System
    Performance
    Fender Passport Venue Portable PA System
    Professional
    Bose L1® Model IS PA System With Single B2 Bass Module And ToneMatch® T1 Audio Engine
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Samson XP360B Expedition Express Portable PA with Bluetooth
    Performance
    Mackie FreePlay Personal PA
    Professional
    Fender Passport Event Portable PA System
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Samson XP360B Expedition Express Portable PA with Bluetooth
    Performance
    JBL EON 206P Portable Two-Way PA System
    Professional
    Fender Passport Venue Portable PA System
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Samson Expedition XP106w Rechargeable Portable PA with Wireless System
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Samson XP360B Expedition Express Portable PA with Bluetooth
    Performance
    Bose L1 Compact Portable Line Array System
    Professional
    Bose L1® Model IS PA System With Single B2 Bass Module And ToneMatch® T1 Audio Engine
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    LD Systems RoadJack 10 Battery Powered Speaker
    Performance
    Behringer Europort EPS500MP3 Portable PA System
    Professional
    Bose L1 Model II System Double B2 Bass with ToneMatch Audio Engine
    Recommendations based on
    Performance
    Bose L1 Model II System Double B2 Bass with ToneMatch Audio Engine
    Professional
    AMS - Behringer - Peavey Tour PA System - Upgraded
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Samson XP360B Expedition Express Portable PA with Bluetooth
    Performance
    Samson Expedition XP106 Portable Powered PA with Bluetooth
    Professional
    LD Systems RoadJack 10 Battery Powered Speaker
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Fender Passport Mini Portable PA System
    Performance
    Numark Lightwave Powered DJ Speaker w/Lightshow
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Samson XP360B Expedition Express Portable PA with Bluetooth
    Performance
    Mackie FreePlay Personal PA
    Professional
    Bose L1 Compact Portable Line Array System
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Samson XP360B Expedition Express Portable PA with Bluetooth
    Performance
    Samson XP360B Expedition Express Portable PA with Bluetooth
    Professional
    Mackie FreePlay Personal PA
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Samson XP360B Expedition Express Portable PA with Bluetooth
    Performance
    Samson Expedition XP106w Rechargeable Portable PA with Wireless System
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Gemini ES-210MXBLU Portable PA System
    Performance
    Fender Passport Venue Portable PA System
    Professional
    Yamaha StagePas 600i Portable PA System
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Gemini ES-210MXBLU Portable PA System
    Performance
    Fender Passport Venue Portable PA System
    Professional
    Yamaha StagePas 600i Portable PA System
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    AMS Behringer Legacy Portable PA System Standard
    Performance
    Peavey Escort 6000 Portable PA System
    Professional
    Bose L1® Model IS PA System With Single B2 Bass Module And ToneMatch® T1 Audio Engine
    Recommendations based on
    Price
    Samson Expedition XP800 800 Watt Portable PA System with Wireless Mic
    Performance
    Peavey Triflex II 3-Way Portable PA System
    Professional
    Bose L1 Model II System Double B2 Bass with ToneMatch Audio Engine

    Interactive PA System Buyer's Guide

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