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What is the minimum power needed for a Pub Band?


thebrig

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Following on from my previous post where I asked for some advice on a PA for a pub band.

 

My question now is:

How much power (rms) per side would be needed to play in small to large pubs, we would like to have a bit of headroom so that we are not pushing the PA to it's limit when playing the larger pubs?

 

Only the vocals and kick drum will be going through the PA.

 

If we ever get to play at a large venue or festival, then we would assume that a PA and sound engineer would be provided.

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as a pub band we've been using a Yamaha EMX 512sc for about 18 years now, not sure it's still available but things have moved on to powered speakers anyway, it's served us well, vocals, bass drum, but trying to figure out what is the power out put is not easy, 500watts according to Yamaha https://usa.yamaha.com/products/proaudio/mixers/emx_box_type/emx512sc_spec.html

some retailers add the 2 channels together and call it a 1000 watts and Yamaha don't say whether the 500 watts it's RMS or not.

Some manufacturers are very naughty with their power ratings, Alto plaster 2000 watts on their speakers but I suspect that's peak power, nowhere near RMS

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46 minutes ago, PaulWarning said:

Some manufacturers are very naughty with their power ratings, Alto plaster 2000 watts on their speakers but I suspect that's peak power, nowhere near RMS

 

The Alto TS408s that I use are (according to Alto) 2000W peak, 1000W RMS. I will say that they're mind-buggeringly loud if you're standing a couple of metres from one and the guitard plugs in a guitar that he hasn't set the volume correctly on.

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1 hour ago, PaulWarning said:

as a pub band we've been using a Yamaha EMX 512sc for about 18 years now, not sure it's still available but things have moved on to powered speakers anyway, it's served us well, vocals, bass drum, but trying to figure out what is the power out put is not easy, 500watts according to Yamaha https://usa.yamaha.com/products/proaudio/mixers/emx_box_type/emx512sc_spec.html

some retailers add the 2 channels together and call it a 1000 watts and Yamaha don't say whether the 500 watts it's RMS or not.

Some manufacturers are very naughty with their power ratings, Alto plaster 2000 watts on their speakers but I suspect that's peak power, nowhere near RMS

This is what I find so frustrating, I've been searching all over the internet and some say 2000 watts but like you, I suspect that is peak power, and it could also be combined.

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The figures for those Alto speakers are nonsense. Will they be loud enough for your pub band? I would imagine so. I spent the last week going back and forward with all the 12 inch speakers that were in my budget and have bought a set of Yamaha DBR 12`s. There is so much info regarding the pros and cons of various makes but having used a lot of Yamaha kit in the past and the fact that you get a 4 year warranty, I went with those. 

 

Haven`t had the chance to use them with the band but I have used them in the house with music playing through them and they sound great. I would love a set to use as a hi fi. :D

 

I don`t think you can go wrong with Yam, Alto, etc.

Edited by jezzaboy
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2 hours ago, jezzaboy said:

The figures for those Alto speakers are nonsense. Will they be loud enough for your pub band? I would image so. I spent the last week going back and forward with all the 12 inch speakers that were in my budget and have bought a set of Yamaha DBR 12`s. There is so much info regarding the pros and cons of various makes but having used a lot of Yamaha kit in the past and the fact that you get a 4 year warranty, I went with those. 

 

Haven`t had the chance to use them with the band but I have used them in the house with music playing through them and they sound great. I would love a set to use as a hi fi. :D

 

I don`t think you can go wrong with Yam, Alto, etc.

The Yamaha DBR 12`s are on my shortlist so can you update when you get to use them with your band please?

Cheers.

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200 honest watts is sufficient. Finding honest specs is the problem. No matter how much power the amp has your average PA twelve inch speaker won't take much more than 50 watts before distortion sets in, so 200 watts gives plenty of headroom.

Quote

Only the vocals and kick drum will be going through the PA.

That opens a different can of worms, one you've already been made aware of. I still stand by my rule that you only get one chance to do it right the first time.

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All watts are not equal, all drivers, all cabinets, all... well everything really!  

 

I had old passive Peavey BW 15" cabs (25 years ago) each a couple of 100 watts (used with 2x250w amp) and they performed faultlessly for 15 years.  I've since used 1000-2000w 10/12/15" cabs and I'm not sure they are any better!  

 

Added to which I know PA guys who could make a band sound great with a couple of hundred watts of amps/cabs whereas another bloke could cripple a band with 2k watts of PA.  

 

In short, I don't think it is as easy as 'how many watts'!

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There is no right answer to this. One of my bands useds a Behringer Powered Mixer stayed at 500 Watts. However that is across two channels and also Peak watts. I suspect it is about 100 into 8  ohms, 150-200 into 4  ohms per channel. One channel is used mono for FOH and the other for monitors. The front of house speakers are Ramsa WS-A200s and they have a sensitivity of 98dB . We have played pubs clubs and small theatres and never been short of volume but then we currently only put vocals  the PA  Remember the watts do not tell you how loud a system is. The sensitivity of the speakers determine that. 

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8 hours ago, PaulWarning said:

as a pub band we've been using a Yamaha EMX 512sc for about 18 years now, not sure it's still available but things have moved on to powered speakers anyway, it's served us well, vocals, bass drum, but trying to figure out what is the power out put is not easy, 500watts according to Yamaha https://usa.yamaha.com/products/proaudio/mixers/emx_box_type/emx512sc_spec.html

some retailers add the 2 channels together and call it a 1000 watts and Yamaha don't say whether the 500 watts it's RMS or not.

Some manufacturers are very naughty with their power ratings, Alto plaster 2000 watts on their speakers but I suspect that's peak power, nowhere near RMS

The Yamaha EMX512SC is 500 watts x2 into 4 ohms according to Yamaha. 

Whether that is RMS is anybody’s guess, but great bit of kit whatever. 

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Leave Watts to the marketing dept. What’s more important is SPL. A lot of the 12” & 15” plastic box speakers are around 128dB whereas their wooden sisters are often around 132dB. That said, my two bands use a pair of old 400W powered Peavey bass bins, combined with a pair of EV ZLX15 tops. Nominally that’s 900w per side, and we put the whole band through a Behringer XR18, then through a DriveRack PA loud speaker processor to these speakers, and we receive plenty of compliments on the sound. The rig can cover a social club concert room albeit we’re not going to be the loudest band you’ve ever heard.

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@thebrig you should feel frustrated at the ridiculous power ratings as well as the almost as ridiculous maximum sound levels. It makes rational choice almost impossible and is probably illegal in the UK but who has the power (no pun intended) or time to take legal action over false advertising.

 

Power ratings are a moderately complex subject to negotiate/understand. The best advice is to ignore all the claims. Not least is that each speaker will have two power limits and the ratings for amplifiers are measured in a completely different way to speakers. Another is that to keep costs down people like Alto use the same amps in all their speakers in a range which is why they claim 2,000W in their 8,10,12 and 15" cabs. The reality is that the 8" speaker will handle around 100W (and not at all frequencies) the 10 around 200W and the 12 around 300W. The manufacturers build these cabs with digital processing that limits the amp power so the speakers never get near their limits and remain reliably in one piece.

 

Remember that we are talking about budget level kit here compared with the £000's+ touring bands use. Even the best RCF/Yamaha gear pub bands use is more family car than formula 1. Performance at this level is clustered around a sweet spot of value for money. The idea that a £250 8" speaker is 2,000W is like saying your base level VW Lupo will go 0-60 in just over a second and has a maxumum speed of 900mph. 10 times reality. It's so ridiculous that it is laughable.

 

Having said that since 2-300W will drive a 12" speaker to it's full potential and a lot of budget gear is really good there is no fear involved. I had the chance to compare a 10"Alto TS10 with my RCF ART310 on Tues and they are both really good speakers, I wouldn't have any trouble using either as vocal only PA. Alto make great kit for the money and Yamaha et al are all at it in selling with over-inflated claims.

 

Incidentally it is very hard to get much more than 122dB out of a midrange 12" mid/bass driver so 132db SPL is a lie too. It's based upon the 2000W that doesn't exist. 132dB would almost instantaneously cause permanent hearing loss and be loud enough to be heard over a Boeing 747 20m away.

 

So go away and have a look at decent used 12" active cabs from Yamaha, RCF, JBL, EV etc which will do you a job for a long while. Alto, Wharfedale, HH are cheaper but still good remembering you get what you pay for Alt TX's won't match the TS range for example and the Mackie Thumps aren't up to the Mackie SRM's. Don't worry about power

Edited by Phil Starr
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6 minutes ago, Phil Starr said:

@thebrig you should feel frustrated at the ridiculous power ratings as well as the almost as ridiculous maximum sound levels. It makes rational choice almost impossible and is probably illegal in the UK but who has the power (no pun intended) or time to take legal action over false advertising.

 

Power ratings are a moderately complex subject to negotiate/understand. The best advice is to ignore all the claims. Not least is that each speaker will have two power limits and the ratings for amplifiers are measured in a completely different way to speakers. Another is that to keep costs down people like Alto use the same amps in all their speakers in a range which is why they claim 2,000W in their 8,10,12 and 15" cabs. The reality is that the 8" speaker will handle around 100W (and not at all frequencies) the 10 around 200W and the 12 around 300W. The manufacturers build these cabs with digital processing that limits the amp power so the speakers never get near their limits and remain reliably in one piece.

 

Remember that we are talking about budget level kit here compared with the £000's+ touring bands use. Even the best RCF/Yamaha gear pub bands use is more family car than formula 1. Performance at this level is clustered around a sweet spot of value for money. The idea that a £250 8" speaker is 2,000W is like saying your base level VW Lupo will go 0-60 in just over a second and has a maxumum speed of 900mph. 10 times reality. It's so ridiculous that it is laughable.

 

Having said that since 2-300W will drive a 12" speaker to it's full potential and a lot of budget gear is really good there is no fear involved. I had the chance to compare a 10"Alto TS10 with my RCF ART310 on Tues and they are both really good speakers, I wouldn't have any trouble using either as vocal only PA. Alto make great kit for the money and Yamaha et al are all at it in selling with over-inflated claims.

 

Incidentally it is very hard to get much more than 122dB out of a midrange 12" mid/bass driver so 132db SPL is a lie too. It's based upon the 2000W that doesn't exist. 132dB would almost instantaneously cause permanent hearing loss and be loud enough to be heard over a Boeing 747 20m away.

 

So go away and have a look at decent used 12" active cabs from Yamaha, RCF, JBL, EV etc which will do you a job for a long while. Alto, Wharfedale, HH are cheaper but still good remembering you get what you pay for Alt TX's won't match the TS range for example and the Mackie Thumps aren't up to the Mackie SRM's. Don't worry about power

Thanks Phil, I will take all you have said onboard.👍

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15 hours ago, casapete said:

The Yamaha EMX512SC is 500 watts x2 into 4 ohms according to Yamaha. 

Whether that is RMS is anybody’s guess, but great bit of kit whatever. 

Agreed. I've used one for... a long time. 

FOH on one channel, monitors on the other - done the job for the last 15 years at least. 

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16 hours ago, casapete said:

The Yamaha EMX512SC is 500 watts x2 into 4 ohms according to Yamaha. 

Whether that is RMS is anybody’s guess, but great bit of kit whatever. 

These were a staple of the pub band for years and the fact that so many are still going a credit to Yamaha, somebody (Peavey?) used to do a three amplifier version too. Yamaha didn't really overstate their specs in those days, I think they were 300W into 8 ohms whch matched their Club series SM112 speakers.

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  • 1 month later...
On 14/02/2024 at 23:42, JPJ said:

What’s more important is SPL. A lot of the 12” & 15” plastic box speakers are around 128dB whereas their wooden sisters are often around 132dB.

 

This is what to look at. 

 

Also, if you do look at Watts, look at distortion %age at 1khz they don't always quote the same figures.

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My recent experience is that, in terms of power, 200-300watts RMS is fine. I will nod to the caveats above from Bill and Phil but just give you my recent experience.

 

Like @Phil StarrI have a thing about speakers and have far too many. Until recently, for vocals only, my band used my Ramsa ( Panasonic) WS-A200 tops. Often claimed at 250watts, a dig down into the spec shows that they weee really rated at 125 watts RMS. The sensitivity is 98dB and they were loud. Of course a big arena would not be ideal  for two of these. Other cost over £500 new and are between 20-30 years old. However at 16Kg and with no side handles they are too heavy/awkward to get on stands for me now.

 

Before lockdown, @Phil Starr organised what you could call jam sessions at Corley near Chard and I went to one. Phil was using a pair of old Wharfedsle Pro Titan 312 active speakers plus subs. I liked them and recently bought them. I did not go on spec, just my experience of them with 5 different bands/vocalists. 
 

I only looked at the specs recently and they are 150 Watts RMS for the woofer and 50 for the tweeter/compression driver. So a real wattage of 200. 
 

For vocals they sound great and are very loud (remember these were the days before exaggerated power claims).  These are probably 10 years old but in perfect working order. 
 

So what can we take from this? Use your ears not your eyes, either when looking at the cabinets or the specs. 
 

Now the caveats, I am not sure I woul put a lot of bass from/kick through any 12” top. Adding a single sub would be fine and it you control the lows(HPF) and the volume you might get away with putting the kick through your choice of tops. Others may have experience here that I do not. 
 

 

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FWIW time was my band had all the volume we needed using a Fender Dual Showman Reverb 100w head into two JBL 4560A clones that I built. Vocals only, but with our backline we got by big time. My bass cab, 'The Hulk', would have made Entwistle envious. Three fifteens in a rear loaded folded horn that stood nearly two meters high. It made people run in fear for their lives with only a 50 watt Bassman head. Good times. ☺️

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I once met a girl , easy it is not that sort of forum. Her father was head flautist for the London Philharmonic. 
 

We were invited back to her parents house to play some  records(vinyl). The HiFi included  a pair of Lowther drivers set in concrete on the floor with huge horns going up and over, finally pointed into the centre of the room. The sound from a tiny amplifier was immense BUT not many spouses would accept either the cost, building work and visual intrusion in the lounge. 

 

Now apart from reminiscing,  as with Bill’s post above, illustrates that you cannot judge a system either by the power or the look of a system.
 

 

 

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Way back when... two JBL 15 based PA cabs had 50w a side up them. Vocals and a little bit of doof from the kick plus one guitar mic'd while the other ran an overkill stage rig. Bass was the trusty Trace 250 and 1518. BL had to lean on Mr Overkill to play ball and let the vocals be the loudest thing as they both sang. 

 

That way he didn't drown me out, which was the actual problem as the PA kept up with me and drummer just fine. BL was a crafty old dude. He mic'sd his weenie combo into a monster out front.

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