Choosing A Personal PA System For A Gigging Band

You're in a band that plays out quite a bit and you've grown tired of relying on venues with less than stellar sound systems. What do you do? While the option for renting a PA is always on the table, the investment of purchasing your own system is probably the ideal answer.

How does one go about choosing the right PA system for them? For bands playing smaller clubs and bars, the name of the game is both size and usability. You need a rig that is easy to run efficiently and something that isn't a load on your collective backs.

"When I think about designing a system for a smaller touring band, the first thing I think about is that it needs to be lightweight and easy to set up," says Vintage King Live Sound expert Paul Johnson.

For smaller live set-ups, Johnson suggests paying close attention to the weight and sound quality of the monitors. Depending on the size of the venues you're playing, he points to two brands (JBL and QSC) that offer speakers that will fit both requirements. By pairing four monitors together (Paul suggests either two JBL EON 610 and two EON 612 or two QSC KW152 and two K12.2), you can achieve the right level of power with a weight load that still falls under 230 pounds.

When it comes to vocals, Johnson relies on the classics for getting the job done right. For microphones, he suggests the Shure BLX24R/SM58-H9 Handheld Wireless SystemThe Shure SM58 is the industry standard for live performances and, since this unit is rack mountable, the wireless system makes it easy for transport and storage when not on tour. 

"Many small bands and independent artists have to set up, tear down and run their own sound," Johnson says. "If I'm creating a system for this size group, I want to give them all the control they need without sacrificing the quality they want. I always chose trusted brands and easy to use products."

For mixing in a small environment, Vintage King's live sound expert often pairs an iPad Air and wi-fi router with a digital mixer like a PreSonus StudioLive 16 Series III or QSC TouchMix 16 to create a powerful resource for controlling levels on stage. 

"The iPad and the router work together to create wireless control of the mixer," Johnson says. "This wi-fi control allows the artist to adjust the house and monitor mix remotely from anywhere in the venue, including on stage during a performance. This is a huge help when you are running your own sound."

If you're in a group that plays out regularly and needs consistent sound quality, buying your own portable PA rig is the way to go. Not only will it improve your sound, but it can also save you money, as the option for renting is no longer necessary.

Want a one-stop solution for your band's live sound needs? Paul Johnson has created two packages for touring/gigging artists that offers everything you need in one simple system. Check them out below:

Live Sound Package: Small Travel System 1

Live Sound Package: Small Travel System 2

If you have a question about creating a live sound package or are interested in building a completely custom system, please reach out to Paul Johnson by contacting him via email or by phone at 888.653.1184.

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