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PA systems info and advice

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Jerry
PA systems info and advice
on Sep 29, 2005 at 7:10:24 pm

Not quite sure where to start other than with equipment catalogs (Full Compass, Sweetwater, B & H, Pro Products), etc. Anyone know of sources (vendors, web, etc) to help me figure out configuring a PA/audio setups to use in large conference halls for audiences up to 1000 people. At times the full room is split into (2) rooms to accommadate up to 500 people in each room. So (2) independent systems will be needed where (1) board feeds the other board as sort of a sub mixer.

I need something that can travel so I am figuring on flight cases populated with the required gear (amps, Efx, mixer). The audio sets primarily will consist of (2) lectern mics and upto (6) table mics. Wireless mics are not an option due to information security issues. However, I will be needing to use wireless mics for some other presentations and am looking to purchasing up to (4) mics/tranamitters/recievers.

I am leaning towards passive speakers, power amp(s), 16 channel mixer, compressor/limiter. Not sure how powerfull an amp I will need. 1200 watts enough or overkill? Basically, I'm looking for a system that I can expand and contract as required for use at the various venues that we go too. I have a good general idea of how to incorporate and set this up but was really looking for a turn-key system of sorts. I should mention that I am government contractor so cost is big concern but want reliable/rugged gear that will provide years of service. Also, I can not hire a consultant or design engineer to assemble the system.

Any thoughts?

Jerry


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Matte
Re: PA systems info and advice
on Sep 30, 2005 at 5:54:18 am

[Jerry] "1200 watts enough or overkill?"

Assuming the use of pro speaker systems...

You can never go wrong with having extra power.
You won't need to crank it "full-up" if you've got a lot of power ... just gives you nice undistorted headroom.

But you can actually come closer to destroying speakers with too LITTLE power (the "clipping" distortion when trying to get "enough" volume can dangerously over-heat the speaker voice-coils).

So, even if you only have a couple of the speakers up in a given situation, 800-1200 watts will be a comfortable powerhouse.
And when you do need to operate 4 to 8 speaker stands, you'll have the horse-power to do it.

That said, I'd get at least THREE identical amps.
Split the speakers between two of them for the show.
If you lose one amp you can still limp-on for that show (or until a break) with the remaining unit.
Then, having that third amp in reserve can get you back up in a hurry.

AND...
Don't forget to add an EQ unit (1/3 Octave, if your crew can operate one) to help "tune-out" the feedback in the main room.


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Jerry
Re: PA systems info and advice
on Sep 30, 2005 at 6:15:12 pm

Is the DrivePack PA a good alternative to multiple EFX boxes?


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Seth Bloombaum
Re: PA systems info and advice
on Sep 30, 2005 at 6:49:12 pm

Generally, yes, lots of people like the dbx driverack series.

It's particularly popular for biamp applications, because it incorporates a crossover as well as room delay, eq, and compression in a single rack space.

However, for a single channel of non-delayed audio all you need is two rack spaces for an eq and compressor/limiter (and some don't use compression, but I do), and you get real knobs to twist and sliders to push, which makes config much easier and more direct. And you won't hesitate to adjust during a show if needed. (with a dsp you're always hesitant to dive through levels of menus while the show is on).

But those are just my biases - lots of engineers love the driverack stuff.

Don't know who to send you to in the DC area, but someone here does.

Thanks for the words on your sound background - I'm just a little hesitant to turn over the car keys to someone who's not gone through drivers ed...


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Seth Bloombaum
Re: PA systems info and advice
on Sep 30, 2005 at 5:41:30 pm

> ...for audiences up to 1000 people... in large concert halls.
> Also, I can not hire a consultant or design engineer to assemble the system.

A PA that can handle voice reinforcement for 1000 people in a large hall is no toy - it can injure people if used improperly. A PA such as this requires a dedicated operator, anything less exposes one to significant liability. If the rules say you can't accomplish this, I would focus on changing the rules.

If you want a recommendation on a vendor who will throw in some specing and assembly with the retail purchase, there are many. Let us know what area you're in, these folks tend to be regional or local operators.


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Jerry
Re: PA systems info and advice
on Sep 30, 2005 at 6:14:19 pm

I'm in the Washington D.C. area. I have done PA setups numerous times as part videotaping events. I am not a novice but don't do it everyday. I haven't had to put together a system from scratch for quite sometime so my knowledge of current equipment is a bit hazy. That's why I was trying to get some feedback as to good reliable price friendly system hardware. In the past I've worked with Crown amps, Rane processors, JBL speakers, Mackie boards and miscellanious gear. I may be able to justify adding a body down the road to run the gear. But right now I am primarily interested in assembling a system that can accomadate the inital request from the govenrment that we support. Over time we will grow the capabilty and staffing as the situation requires it.

Jerry


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Rick Mac
Re: PA systems info and advice
on Oct 9, 2005 at 4:54:24 am

Jerry,

My two cents worth.

I would consider a powered speaker rig instead of the conventional passive type. Powered Speakers by Mackie and others have optimised the amps and processing for their speakers giving you a great sounding speaker with minimal fuss and setup time. Powered speakers reduce the size, weight, and complexity of any given setup. They also give you faster setup and teardown.

What I would suggest is that you call the folks out at Sweetwater Audio. Their sales staff is very knowledgable and will take the time time help you put together a system to meet your needs.

As I full time soundtech I have found that powered speakers for this type of application to be the best.

Good Luck....regards....Rick.


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