PA Hire Guide
This essential guide will help you to hire the right PA system for your event. Hire a sound system that fits your budget, but importantly is suitable for your type of event.
The main aim for any PA system is to deliver well defined sound that is clear and comfortably audible for the audience. But with so many options and systems available it can be confusing, in this guide we’ll try to cut through some of the technicalities, cover the basics and guide you on the main considerations when hiring a PA system.
What is PA?
PA System - Stands for Public Address System, an electronic amplification of music or voice. In a smaller event scenario often referred to as sound reinforcement, i.e. reinforcing and boosting the audible sound.
Traditional PA systems are made up of a number of main components, namely an amplifier, speaker cabinets usually in pairs and an audio mixing desk. They can be heavy, large to transport and often tricky to set-up. Whilst for bigger venues and larger audiences traditional PA’s are often required, smaller events and performances can often be covered by a range of ultra portable, lightweight combined systems that offer much of the functionality of a traditional PA set-up, but without a lot of the associated hassle for the occasional user.
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The main question we get asked when it comes to hiring a PA system, is ‘how powerful does the amplifier need to be’? The amplifier boosts the signal from the mixer its power is measured in watts, in very basic theory, the high the wattage the louder the PA system will be. Although there are a number of other key factors, such as speaker sensitivity and impedance which also impact on a system output.
How many watts you require is generally dictated by a number of factors. Number one and the most obvious of these, is room size and whether your event is indoors or outdoors along with the associated acoustic characteristics of the space. People absorb sound in a venue, this also should be considered and factored in. The speakers will need to be matched to the amplifier to efficiently deliver the sound.
The type of sound also plays a key role, as does the volume level required. For instance a rock band playing in a small club will need a minimum of 1500-2,000 watts, whereas a pop style band could likely require less the 1,000 watts. Simply making a speech in a similar environment to an attentive i.e quiet audience, would probably require less the 500 watts. It is always worth factoring what is known as ‘headroom’ too. This means having a system that is not running ‘flat out’ and potentially distorting, thus leaving a little extra level in reserve, should it be required during a performance. Whilst over driving speakers is not great, over driving an amplifier in a mis-matched system to produce more volume can result in potentially damaging clipped and distorted signals being sent to the speakers. In summary a well matched power amplifier with a little headroom is the basis of a reliable, good quality PA system.
PA Amplifier Hire is available HERE.
Signals from microphones, instruments, smart phones for music playback all need to be balanced, processed and individually controlled before they are sent to the amplifier then outputted to the speakers. An audio mixer does exactly that, mix the audio, every microphone and device connected will have it’s own ‘channel’ with independent control over levels, EQ-Bass, treble etc. and the volume of each input. There is also an overall Master Volume for the mixed output.
Whilst many audio mixers look complicated to operate, every channel has the same controls, learn what everything does on one channel and you’ll know them all! A mixer will generally have XLR connectors, ¼” jack connectors and/or phono connections, although not every channel will have every connector.
How many channels (inputs) you will need on a mixer depends on your specific usage. For instance when mixing a 5 piece band, the first instinct may be an 8 channel desk will suffice. However once you calculate what is required, it’s quickly apparent 8 won’t be enough! For example when mixing a 5 piece band; Lead vocal mic = 1 input, supporting vocal mic = 1 input, guitar amp = 1 input, bass amp = 1 input, keyboard = 1 input. At this point we are up to 5 inputs however the drum kit will also need mic’ing up. 2x overhead microphones for cymbals, a mic on each tom, the bass and snare drum equals x7. This brings the total inputs required to 12. So a 12 channel desk is a minimum, although it’s worth considering hiring a 16 channel for the additional flexibility.
Audio Mixer Hire is available HERE.
The main components are combined in a single, highly portable unit. So if you need to make a quick speech in a small to medium sized room with a single microphone, a portable powered speaker will do the job. They are cheap to hire, easy to operate and the whole system will fit easily in a car boot. Powered speakers will also amplify music from a suitably connected device i.e smart phone or tablet, they are primarily designed for using with one input i.e. a music device or microphone for multiple inputs see the portable PA systems below.
Portable powered speaker hire is available HERE.
For larger audiences or situations where you need more inputs you should consider hiring a slightly larger system. Still highly portable these PA systems have the added advantage of a graphic equaliser and individual volume control of each input. Supplied with pair of speakers and stands, this helps distribute the sound more evenly to your audience. Our Yamaha PA’s allow both microphones and music playback devices to be used together, cabling and connections are straight forward even for the first time user. Supplied in a carry bag with a pair of speaker stands the whole system will still fit easily in a car boot or on a back seat.
Portable PA system hire is available HERE.
Our more traditional PA sound systems are fully configurable depending on your requirements. Supplied in separate amplifier/mixer/speaker kits, in terms of sound output they out perform all the portable PA systems. They are quite large to transport in heavy duty flight cases, so factor in your vehicle size and venue access. Our hire PA’s are suitable for large audiences either vocal amplification or music playback. We also hire a variety of systems with sub-woofers for added powerful bass sound.