8 Best PA Systems | March 2017
- speakers can be carried with one hand
- 5 channel mixer can be detached
- high frequency drivers
- auxiliary input for music players
- not easily portable
- speakers can be placed on stands
- stands come included
- mixer has multiple control features
- high priced but high quality
- detachable 10 channel mixer
- usb connector for phones, tablets, mp3s
- feedback suppressor
- bluetooth equipped
- microphone kit included
- comes with 7 channel mixer
Who Do PA Systems Benefit?
A PA system is usually comprised of everything needed to project live voices or music. The components are: one or two speakers, a mixing board, a microphone, and cables to connect the microphone. PA systems benefit anyone looking to amplify their voice or live sounds. However, different circumstances call for different uses.
As a professor in a lecture hall, a medium sized PA system will allow everyone to hear what is being discussed. An additional benefit in this instance is the ability to create recordings of the lecture notes through the PA’s output. In a public speaking setting, a higher powered PA system may be required to fill a large hall, but may only call for a basic mixer, as only one person is talking at a time. In contrast, a band will need a mixer with multiple channels to fit every member. In a live performance setting, it is important to consider the kinds of venues one will be playing before determining how much power is needed.
Once the audience size has been factored in, it is necessary to estimate how many watts the PA system will need to have. A decent average is between 5-10 watts per person in the audience. This leaves plenty of room to increase volumes if needed due to loud crowds or background noise. At 10 watts per person, a construction team could be working next door and the audience would never hear it.
Before Buying A PA System
A lot of time and money can be saved by adjusting choices based on actual needs rather than perceived needs. It is automatically assumed that more is better, but this isn't always true. If a PA system is simply needed to deliver small speeches to a roomful of people at the town hall, focus can safely be shifted away from power; focusing instead on how easy the PA is to setup and use, and how portable it is.
Also consider if the PA system is battery powered or cable powered. The advantages of a battery powered PA system are clear: voice or music can be projected virtually anywhere, whether you have access to a power outlet or not. Karaoke on the beach and outdoor presentations become simple when a cable is not necessary to power the PA system. There are a few downsides to battery powered PA systems; most obvious being a limited battery life.
Another thing to factor in is how the microphone connects to the PA system. Some PA systems will connect the microphone via a standard ¼ inch cable. This is a mediocre option, whereas balanced XLR cables are considered much better quality in regards to vocal range and interference reduction. Will you be performing far away from the PA on a regular basis? If this is the case, a wireless microphone setup can be the most convenient option. Some PA systems may not support wireless microphones, so be sure to double check the features of the one your are considering. Do you like to move among the audience and interact while giving speeches? In this case, a PA that includes a feedback suppressor should be considered, as too much feedback can damage both the system and the audience's eardrums
If the PA system travels often, portability is important. A PA system which has a mixer, two speakers, a monitor, and various cables can take up a lot of space and more of a hassle then a help. Size can also become a factor if you travel in a small car or need the space to transport all of a band's gear and members. There are all-in-one PA systems available that travel easily and take up minimal space.
Also think about the mixing capabilities of the PA system. Some systems offer only one input channel and have very little control. If it is only necessary to project a single voice or play music from a device that has its own equalizer (EQ) control settings, this will not be an issue. If multiple voices or instruments will be using the PA on a regular basis, the mixer's requirements will increase. Systems which offer multiple channels and full EQ control are a better choice for this scenario.
The Birth Of The PA
The first PA was called the Automatic Enunciator, and was marketed as a valuable tool for hotels in the beginning of the 20th century. It allowed public announcements to be broadcast to multiple rooms at once; and it set the stage for all future systems. In just 20 years, new technologies were created and implemented, which made PA systems closely resemble the simple systems still in use today: a microphone, amplifier, and one or more loudspeakers. This was the birth of modern PA systems.
Further technological advancements have made great improvements in the features and functions of these machines. The large amplifiers in old systems have been replaced with more smaller, effective units. Cables that cancel out interrupting frequencies are industry standard now as well. More complex and effective PA systems exist today, such as the ones used for live audio. These include mixing boards, powered speakers, and enhanced sound quality. These new systems may be complicated, but the basic function of a PA has remained the same for over 100 years now.