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A Guide To Buying A P.A. System

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The P.A (public address) system is the most expensive and important part of the professional singers equipment.

Iit should be said at this stage that you can invest in the best and most expensive equipment but if you don't learn to sing properly you will have wasted your money.No equipment in the world can compensate for someone who has not had singing lessons and learned how to sing properly.

Before we go any further it should be noted that a p.a. system is only as good as the weakest link. What do I mean by this statement?
Well, if you buy an expensive amplifier but connect it to cheap speakers, the sound will only be as good as the cheap speakers and vice versa.

The same can be said for having an expensive p.a. system and then using a cheap microphone, the sound quality will only be as good as the the microphone can produce and the same can be said for all parts of the system including connection leads.

Some venues will have their own in-house p.a. system however as a professional singer it is your responsibility to supply a p.a. system adequate for the job.

The type of p.a. system depends on whether you are self contained (working solo and using backing tracks) or working with a band where the p.a. system may only have to contend with the your vocals going through it.

There are numerous makes and prices for p.a. systems and the best way to be educated on what is required, is to visit you local musical instrument shop for their advice and it is always advisable to spend as much as possible on the equipment.

To give you some knowledge so that you will have an idea of what to look for, lets look at the different parts of the p.a. system.

The amplifier is what amplifies the sound from the mixer and sends it to the speakers so that the audience can hear the music.
The amount of power which they can produce is measured in 'amps',and most are stereo (they have both left and right outputs).
The power output required depends on the size of the room and the amount of people and what is being amplified i.e.: vocals only, vocals and backing music or vocals and band.

Lets take a small venue which holds 100 people and it's a self contained act (singer using backing tracks).
An amplifier with an output of 500W would be sufficient.
It is advisable to have the most powerful amplifier available as this will allow for plenty of headroom and be less likely to be overdriven and cause distortion.

The mixer is where we connect the equipment we want to hear coming from the sound (PA) system and to balance the volume, EQ (bass and treble) and any effects such as reverb, echo etc. Mixers come with various amounts of channels and controls depending on needs and price.
For a solo singer using backing tracks a four-channel mixer would be sufficient. Channels one and two could be used for the backing track player (panned left and right to give a stereo sound), channel three would be for the microphone, leaving channel four as a spare channel.
Some mixers come with a built in amplifier thus lessening the need for more cables.

The speakers used should be of as good a quality as the rest of the equipment, should be sat on speaker stands at height of at least 6ft 6in (2m).
The speakers total impedance should never be lower than that of the minimum impedance of the amplifier and should have a lesser output in amps than the amplifier.
I would recommend 15in speakers if they are being used full range (not in conjunction with bass bins).

Microphone and leads
There are numerous microphones on the market and they are all dependent on budget and preference but for someone new to professional performing there is none better to get you started than the shure sm58 microphone.
It is indusrty standard, still used by some of the worlds top performers and is reasonably priced.
You should always have good quality leads which should be wound up carefully at the end of the gig in order that they don't get damaged.
They should also be taped to the floor where necessary, to prevent anyone tripping and causing damage to either themselves or the equipment.
Spare leads and microphone should always be carried in case of breakdowns and a circuit protection plug should be used to plug into the mains for safety.

More information on P.A. systems and other singing tips can be found in The SingingTutor E-Book.

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Equipment | Blog | Become A Professional Singer | Setting Up A Sound System | Private Tuition | Health
| X-Factor Secrets Revealed


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