How to choose the right PA systemPRECISEMUSIC
We’re on a mission to give people the world over the chance to sample the sheer brilliance of NOVA’s PA gear, but the fact that this fantastic brand occupies a landscape littered with competitors and all manner of speaker, mixer, amp and controller configurations demonstrates how tricky it can be for the customer.
How on earth do you battle through the overwhelming range of options available and pick the right PA?
If you’re sitting staring at your laptop screen, scratching your chin and close to giving up entirely, we’ve got 5 tips for choosing the right PA system. It’s out there. We promise.
1. Decide if you want portability or control
PA systems are getting smaller and smaller. Similarly, if you’ve ever heard any Sonos gear, you’ll know just how big a punch small speaker packages are now able to offer. That said, there are compromises with portable systems.
If you play at all manner of venues from large to small, a compact PA will likely run out of steam in certain situations. You’ll also lose some control that you’ll have with larger multi-component systems.
On the other hand, if you only play small venues and have modest power requirements, go portable – it’ll save your wallet (and your back).
2. Powered or non-powered?
This is a common question and one we’re asked a lot. To go powered or non-powered when it comes to speakers? Thankfully, the answer is relatively simple.
Speaker technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years to the point where powered speakers offer just as much punch and sound quality as those that require separate amps. Sure, you won’t fill an arena with them, but if your budget is tight and you want ease of setup and configuration, powered is the way to go.
If larger venues are your thing, or if you can stretch the budget a little further, we do recommend going separate with speakers and amplification. You’ll gain more power overall and far more control.
3. Think headroom
When choosing a PA, it can be all-too-easy to plump for a system which is ‘good enough’. While this may fulfil your current ambitions and gigging requirements, what happens when you’re called upon to play a bigger venue and provide the PA?
Headroom is vitally important in live audio. Ensure you invest sensibly by choosing a PA system which is more powerful than you require. If you don’t, you’ll only end up hiring one that is when the need arises.
4. Don’t be blinded by big names
Another mission of ours is to abolish gear snobbery. You may have a friend who is singing the praises of a big name gear company, or perhaps you’ve been wooed by the monitors they used at last year’s Glastonbury festival. Don’t be.
Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find gear which will knock your socks off without breaking your bank balance.
5. Buy a separate EQ
Equalisers can make or break gigs. On-board mixer EQ will do the job to a point, but if you’re unable to precisely find and banish rogue frequencies, your night could turn into an absolute nightmare.
You’ll need to budget a little extra, but possessing a separate EQ will give you far greater control. It should also be seen as an investment, because it will prevent a poor show time and time again.
Stick with the five tips above and you’ll quickly narrow down your choices for a PA which will do the best job at every gig and last for years to come.