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Our newly formed rock covers band needs to find a PA system for our female vocalist 

It will at this stage only be used for vocals at small to medium pub / club gigs 

Any advice on kind of wattage we should aim for as a system 

Our singer has a powerful voice if that helps but we don’t want to be under powered in the vocal department!!

Was thinking two stand mounted PA speakers ( no subs ) such as 10 or 12” tops and a small mixer either powered or not depending on if active cabs or passive 

Will only need around four channels at this stage 

Advice ? 

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It depends how big the band is and how loud the players are. We bought a PA for my 3 piece knockabout band and I think we asked some online retailers for advice before buying. From memory go for the highest wattage you can because it's better to have it and not need it, rather than need it and not have it. Most PAs have come down in size so it shouldn't be an issue in small venue.

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A few points to think about from my experience.

Where and how are you going to store it and consequently transport it? This may affect your purchasing decisions if space is tight in a vehicle or house/flat.

If you’re working to a budget don’t forget to factor in mics, stands, cables, power extensions etc. The bill can get big very quickly.

Who’s going to run the PA when it’s in use? I think, in a rock/pop setting, getting a good sound out of a PA is as much a skill as playing one of the instruments. Someone has to be interested, learn how to do it (if they don’t know already) and take control of the mixer.

There are lots of good bargains around in used gear. Good luck!

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I'd say look to get some decent powered speakers - the 'standard' (but by no means the best) are the Mackie SRMs and there's usually lots available second-hand. RCF are well-thought of on here, and QSC are the upper end of the market. We also have a Yamaha DXR10 which is used as a vocal monitor, but another one of those would be great. Go for the best you can afford - skimping now will mean problems with expanding etc down the line. As with bass cabs, suggested wattage ratings are very misleading, but look for stuff 500w+ if possible. The more headroom, the better. 

<edit> I'd also say go for 12" speakers as a minimum - if you're going to be playing any recorded audio etc (wedding/background music) then without a sub 10"s can sound a little weedy. If you can lug them around, 15"s are a good compromise without a sub. 

As for mixer, I'd say get something with at least 12 channels, with ideally 6 - 8 of those mic inputs in case you wanted to add backing vocals, keys, and/or drums. There's loads of good analogue mixers, and the digital stuff is becoming really useful at accessible price points (XR18 etc). 

Have you thought about monitoring? 

Edited by Jakester
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Thanks for the tips so far 

Initially thus will only be for vocals and subs not needed so probably 12” tops and most likely active speakers 

Transport and storage isn’t a problem and we have vocal mikes etc and will add later fold back monitors 

For now this is for band rehearsal and pub gigs with a moderate loud band. 

Im trying to get a feel for wattage so it’s decent for most venues from large pubs to small pubs and the occasional small hall 

What about brands such as Yamaha, Peavey, Studiomaster, JBL etc etc 

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As I say, Yamaha are good - we have the DXR10 Mk1 and it's great. Our setup is two 12" Mackie Thump powered speakers from a XR18 digital mixer, with the Yamaha as a vocal monitor. That's with two vocalists and does pubs gigs with no problems at all. 

I have a Mackie sub when needed but haven't used it in anger. 

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You haven't given a budget which makes all the difference. I'd advise getting the best active speakers you can. At the moment I think RCF as a brand probably lead the way in value and quality. Even their basic ranges sound good and their best are stunning for the money. QSC as mentioned are very good but perhaps a little rougher for vocals, Yamaha also are excellent. All three are very reliable. The American brands JBL and EV are still good but slightly coloured compared with the above. 

The 'standard' band set up will be a 12" speaker with horn. You can safely ignore the power ratings (wattage) they are pretty much all so over-specced that the rated wattages are meaningless. 12" speakers pretty much reach their full potential at around 300W being limited by the physical excursion limits of a 12" speaker. Claims of 1000W are basically just advertising huff. All of the above offer 12" speakers with roughly equal outputs and enough to bring your vocals up enough to be heard over the band. They'll also be able to cover the output from the rest of the band too with the possible exception of bass and kick drum. This of course will depend upon exactly what music you play, general guidelines here. Look for maximum sound levels here 128-133decibels are what will be claimed and anything in that region will be adequate. Even there though be sceptical, none of them will reach these levels except perhaps for short bursts of sound at certain frequencies and they all use different levels of caution in their claims.(ie none at all for the worst offenders)

If you want something really cheap I've used the Wharfedale Titans successfully. They aren't particularly flat response and won't handle bass or drums, but for vocals only they are great, particularly female vocals. After sales service from Wharfedale is good too.

The reality is there has never been a better time to buy, even the cheap stuff is way better sounding than gear of even 10-15 years ago

Don't forget to budget for mics, stands, leads etc. as well as the inevitable mixer.

Let us know the budget though

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Phil's advice is sound (pardon the pun). You can't really go wrong with RCF for the money. You can always add active subs at a later date if you need them. I would suggest you look at mixers with at least 3 (4 even better) band eq with sweepable mid(s) if possible. Will make a big difference to vocals. If you're thinking of a digital mixer, that won't be an issue as the eq will be extensive on virtually any model,, but at the starter stage, you're more likely to be looking at analogue.

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Can I remind people that Basschat rules clearly state you are not to offer items for sale if they are not advertised on here and if they are, you need to include a link to your Basschat thread. I've hidden a couple of posts.

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5 minutes ago, BassAdder27 said:

I think budget for two speakers / stands and mixer would be £500 to £600 approx 

Not much I know 

For that money I'd be looking second hand. There's bound to be some decent setups on your local buy and sell sites - Gumtree, FB Marketplace etc, and if you're lucky you can get cables and stands included too.

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3 hours ago, BassAdder27 said:

It will at this stage only be used for vocals 

...

Will only need around four channels at this stage 

What's the mixer for?  What are the other three channels?

For consideration: which is better,  one very good speaker, or two ok speakers?  

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Just now, BassAdder27 said:

what about Alto TS312 cabs x 2 

Are they any good as a starter?? 

In a different band I was in we had some Alto 15's - a couple of generations older than those I'd have thought. They were adequate at best - *just* managed to exceed stage levels in smaller venues but struggled with any more. The Thumps I mentioned comfortably outpaced them in every respect. 

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29 minutes ago, BassAdder27 said:

I think budget for two speakers / stands and mixer would be £500 to £600 approx 

Not much I know 

Any chance you could save a bit more? That isn't going to get you much. No matter how good the band, vocals are what most listeners focus on and a poor sound isn't going to do you any favours. Alto, etc are generic, budget Chinese boxes and won't sound good when you push them, even if the sound at showroom levels is OK.

Buying used is always an option and that's fine for mixers and stands. However, smaller, less expensive PA speakers will likely have been hammered (people try to get them to do more than they are capable of before eventually deciding to upgrade), so new is the safe route. You'll get little to nothing for them when you wish to upgrade (as you inevitably will), so it's money gone. Also, better speakers will survive an upgrade - you can add subs as suggested above to increase the power. - so you don't have to start again when you want to improve the PA.

£800 or so will get you reasonable 12" speakers (something like this - RCF ART 312A Mk4 12" Active Speaker - EACH - Andertons Music Co.) and a used mixer. That's only an additional £50 per band member - assuming a 4 piece - to add to your budget. If you are looking at budget models, don't get 10s for a rock band if you are not using a sub, even for vocals only. I have heard fabulous results on vocals from a single pair of Nexo 10s, but they are £2.5k a  pair, not including amplification...

From experience, I would advise not buying the PA jointly if possible. It's better for band members to own items individually (people own a speaker each, the mixer and so on). That way, if anyone leaves, there won't be issues/arguments over arriving at a price to buy their share out (been there).

 

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57 minutes ago, BassAdder27 said:

what about Alto TS312 cabs x 2 

Are they any good as a starter?? 

We started out with an Alto 12" cab - can't remember the model number but it was the second generation, not the TS312. It was alright - good for us - but nothing really to compare it against.

The "mixer" was in fact a Behringer B205 initially, it did the job and acted as the singer's monitor (so she can hear herself!) but we soon outgrew it then went for a proper mixer (Behringer 1222 of some kind). However our needs are probably very different from yours - a big band, most instruments acoustic, just the piano and vocals going through the mixer. The bass would have enough power of its own to not need to, although we did try a few times to put bass & guitar into the mixer, to give the singer a better monitor mix. But in a big band, the monitor mix for the singer is mainly piano and she doesn't need to worry about the other instruments.

I'd advise, for as long as possible, to keep it as simple as possible. Ie PA just for singer, nothing monitored, and careful positioning and setting of volume controls means that the bass, guitar and drums are all balanced both for the FOH and for the singer to hear.

By all means you can go for everything thru the PA (how many channels for drum mics???) and monitors for everyone etc. but you'll inevitably end up drowning in wires instead of being a musician.

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Our 5 piece run 3 x Mackie SRM350 Mk3 cabs. 2 go front of house, 1 is the singers wedge monitor and a backup in case of any issues with the other 2 (had no issues to date)

Mixer is a Mackie DL1608 which has more inputs than we’ll ever need but more importantly,  4 monitor outputs and we run the little Beringher 150 watt monitors as well as the wedge.

Vocals, backing vocals, Roland drums and one of the guitarists Helix output go through the PA. It does us fine for pub/club gigs

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If you want new then you need to look at these Wharfedale Titan 12D 250W Active Speaker in Black - Andertons Music Co.. I have a pair I bought as floor monitors. We used them as PA mains for a couple of gigs just before lockdown instead of our usual QSC 12-2's putting vocals (three of us sing) and guitar through. Our drummer needs a booth rather than amplification and bass was from backline only. It was only as an experiment because said drummer bought a new car which won't carry drums plus PA and I didn't fancy .

Umm this is embarrassing but for that use they eclipsed the QSC's which are five times the price. They are a little sweeter sounding and my goodness they go loud. The downside is the flimsy cab and lightweight bass driver mean they absolutely cannot handle bass. They also have an enhanced upper mid peak which means they don't work well as floor monitors due to feedback. On stands out front they are fine. The other strong point is that they are really lightweight, our female singer has no problem carrying them. I've also used them with a sub at open mic nights at genuine rock band volumes, relieved of the bottom octave by the subs they are great. I've had them six years without issues though they aren't my main PA. That takes up only half your budget. I used a Behringer 1204USB Behringer X1204USB Mixer - Andertons Music Co. mixer for years, compact and does the job, when I upgraded to a Yamaha MG I realised the difference better mic pre's make but they will do a job and you can often find used ones.

There's also a Wharfedale PSX112 Wharfedale PSX112 350W Active PA Speaker - Andertons Music Co. which @Chienmortbb recently tried out. It's a lot heavier, probably has a better cab and the bass driver looks to have a bigger magnet. I haven't used one so no comment from me.

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I don't mean to go off at a tangent, but if you're new to buying PA gear then please please pretty please

DON'T BUY NEW!

Few things go down in value quite as much or as quickly as low to mid-range PA gear, and the best way to find out what you really need is to buy a simple system, try it, and work out what (if anything) is lacking.

I just did a quick'n'dirty search on eBay for "PA system" + Used + Buy It Now + UK Only.

If I set the Budget at "Up to £200" I get 370 results, and whilst much of it is dross there's at least a hundred rigs there that I'd be happy to gig with as my first rig.

 

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As Phil said I had a PSX112, it was really well made. It used active filters rather than DSP for the crossover, possible proving @Phil Starr 's assertion that the drivers are of a higher quality than usual at this pricepoint. The amplifiers were a cut above those used in the  usual budget PA speakers and much better than those in the Mackie Thumps of this world. Wharfedale's HQ is in the UK and we suspect that most of the designwork is still done here so there is good technical support. At £228 for a pair these are a steal..  Get youself a small mixer and you will soon be rocking and rolling.

The boss AKA her indoors said it was the nicest sound she had heard form any my speakers,

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