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Hi folks. I have been jamming with a couple guys in a garage and we would like to start trying to sing a bit, and maybe attract other people to sing with us so I am interested in getting a portable PA package, maybe an everything included bundle type thing. It seems there are quite a few options out there and I thought I would bring it up here since this forum always gives me good answers to my music questions.


I dont need anything real fancy or high powered right now. Just enough power to fill a garage with sound and maybe eventually a very small gig. Something portable, easy to set up and break down, good sound, and last but not least, want to stay below $500. I have seen some offerings from Fender, Yamaha, Peavey, Beringer, and a few others that all seem to meet my needs on paper, but I have no experience with any of this stuff so I call on you, my all knowing musical internet friends. Thanks in advance. [thumbup]

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NO! Okay here is the thing. I needed a PA for me to rehearse singing with my ex-drummer.

I went through this before and they're gonna try to sell you two cheap amps with a cheap mixer.


I got a Beringer Eurolive 8215 and a Yamaha MG82cx. I got the beringer for $150 ($300 if I'd gotten both) and the Yamaha new for $130. That's under $500 and much better quality and louder speakers and a mixer with built in effects and compressor (there's a Yamaha MG82 w/o fx that's cheaper still but does have the compressor). Now, you can get a deal on a combo that's less than the $500 BUT I tried that and the sound on those cheapies SUCK A$$. Not to mention resale value...in case I sell I know what I got won't loose much value.


The Beringer is solid and LOUD and the Yamaha I got had good reviews on the sites I researched.


My 2 cents. Good luck!

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Dave has a super point - how many folks need to plug into a PA?


I'll add the question of what kind of music - such as, are you miking AE guitars or running through the PA/board, miking guitar amps or...


It's not entirely simple that way.


I think Izzy probably did a super job getting what she got for what she does.


For what I do, I got a cheapie set from MF that included a lousy mike (I have far better) and stand (I have far better), 10" speakers, 100-watt amp, speaker stands which make the 100 watts worth a lot more than setting them on the floor at the edge of the stage. For a rock band, even a bigger folk group, it's crap. For what I do at what volumes I play, it's plenty - and for the sound at levels I'm doing, it's fine.


Crank it way up in a noisy saloon for rock, it's not worth beans, would sound horrid and be functional "garbage." But used for voice and an AE or mag pup archtop guitar for "cowboy" or "standards," and even "folk blues," it's fine even in a 500-seat theater. Venue is a big deal.


The reason I'm saying the above is that there's a whole lotta stuff out there, new and used, that can "fit" with about any type of group. But you've gotta figure from what it is you're doing and what kinda venue.


OTOH... back playing rock and country/rock in "The Day," we ran with tube PAs in some awfully big venues with power and speakers that would bring laughs today, but it was about as good a sound as anybody was getting.


There's so much better equipment out there today, but that also means you've gotta do a better job of matching what you're doing - and where - with new or used equipment at what price point.


I watched a kid rock band this summer that had some decent PA if they'd have cranked down the Marshall and bass amp. But no, they hadda play at max volume and the PA just wasn't enough to hear vocals at all.



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Thanks for the replies. To try to answer Daves questions, yes I am starting out with nothing and will need to get a hold of probably all of the things you mentioned. Could get away with 1 microphone/stand for now but preferably 2. I think a 4 channel mixer would more than fill our needs for now.


Right now there are 3 of us playing only in a garage for fun. There are no gigs that will be happening in the near future. We play hard classic rock. Things like Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Pat Benatar, Black Sabbath, etc. I play guitar through a Blackstar HT 5, Bass plays through a SS Ampeg 100 watt amp, and a drummer plays un amplified drums. Again, we just want to add some vocals to our playing. I have plenty of volume from my 5 watt amp but I may want to try messing with miking it or running it into the PA to try to get a little more headroom out of it.

If any gigs were ever to come out of this thing again, that will be way distant future because for 1, we dont have much material to gig with, and 2, we really aren't that good so really just looking to fill the garage with sound. If and when we ever started thinking about playing out we can worry about our needs for that then.


Izzy, I will take a look at the equipment you went with, and appreciate your advice, and by the way, I enjoy your contributions to these forums and am becoming a fan of yours =D>

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I got a Yamaha EMX660 Powered Mixer and 2 yamaha speakers back in 2001 for about $600. It was plenty for us to use for vocals in a loud rock band practicing in our basement and rehearsal space. I think its 600 total watts 2x300. Still works like a charm and would recommend yamaha.

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For the money, check out the Phonic systems that Musician's Friend sells. I think that is what Milod is referring to as well. Anyway, a few years back my son needed a PA for some DJ work he was doing. I spent $299 on the Phonic 620 Powerpod setup with the 10" speakers and was amazed with the equipment for that price. The amp/mixer was a 100Wx2 setup and had like 8 channels with a few that allowed for direct instrument inputs, and had full effects capabalities that were very good as well. The speakers sounded great and was very loud and clear for a small to medium venue. It came with cheesy speaker cables and 1 cheesy mic which went right in the trash, and I added a single 15" sub cab that I picked up for $75 and the setup really rocked! It was reliable and other than the hardware, was great. They sell setups with more power and speakers with 12" and 15" inch drivers and I'm sure they are a big upgrade for the little extra money they charge for them. When I sold the setup on CL after having it for about 2 years, I was able to recover all of my investment. Not everyone knows about some of the less expensive stuff available out there. Forgot to mention, I was very skeptical and read a lot of positive reviews on the Phonic stuff before I pulled the trigger. I even had a question about hooking up the sub and was pleasantly surprised that they actually had a great web technical support staff.


Now, if I were buying for more serious reasons, for a little more money I'd look at better brand used stuff like Izzy did, or look at what Carvin has. They do high quality stuff packaged together starting in the price range you are looking at.

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Blueblooded is correct: That's just what I got, but one even less expensive that came on special with speaker stands, etc., as well as the bottom-end mike. My semi-antique Shure takes up the slack quite well and an antique Atlas mike stand ditto.


But again, remember that I'm inevitably doing either small-scale places solo or on various size stages with material that makes sheer volume no issue at all. OTOH, sit in front of the speakers, crank to 10 and hit a guitar chord and it'll still hurt.


I'm also more than a bit cynical on low-end equipment. Actually I'm more than a little cynical on mid-better equipment that's been shipped anywhere at any time. So regardless, I figure the bottom line is to "burn in" any electronics, combo amp, head or PA, for a week or two. If it boils or burns down the house, in that time, give it back; if it keeps working after that, it's likely to run for a long, long time.


I really think the bottom line on this sort of question is the purpose. I could make a great case for example for buying a $10,000 archtop and $150 amp for a guy with the cash and a home hobby. I also could make an equally good case for a bunch of teens wanting a band, to buy low-end Epis and drum set and an inexpensive-brand relatively low powered PA and inexpensive low-powered amps and inexpensive mikes and stands, etc. The idea is to meet the needs appropriately more than being "cheap," but still within budget. The guy playing the $10,000 archtop at home doesn't need a $10,000 boutique amp - unless he/she wants it more as a showpiece even just for himself along with the guitar.


A startup band, especially a teen band of any style, wants to be loud, but more than anything they need to learn is how to balance their sound so vocals can be heard as well as bass, drums, rhythm and lead instruments. A PA system in a garage doesn't really need to be much and the players need to recognize that if/when they rehearse in a bigger venue such as a church basement, they'll have to do a lotta adjustment; ditto that same church basement or school gym if they're filled with people. That's among the most important lessons, IMHO, for anyone getting into a rock or country band where "loud" is important. The problem is that "loud" must be balanced not by what the players hear, but what the audiences hear.


So... the first thing is to do as Izzy and I did, but with different results. We both figured what we needed amplification for, and made our purchases from what appeared relatively available to us to meet that purpose within budget. Were I playing in a band and responsible for PAs, I'd do the same analysis and I guarantee I'd have a different conclusion. In fact, were I playing in two bands with relatively similar genre, I'd almost guarantee the "right" PA setup would be different depending on individual players and other amplification in use.


Yeah, ain't much of an answer because it brings up more questions. But that's IMHO the best way to do it. Look at it this way: Izzy has something that works well for her purposes, I have something that works well for my purposes, but if we were in a situation where we were to form a duo and add a drummer and let her emphasize keys and the bass from keys, we'd both agree that for playing small-medium venues we'd need something other than what we have now. I'm certain we'd set a budget, determine how to get the best balance for a good sound in different sorts of venues...


In short, we'd study needs first, determine budget and lastly seek equipment that would do the job with appropriate quality within budget. <grin> At least that's what I'd hope we'd do.



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I wanted to add my two cents.


First, for $500 I would cancel the idea of having a PA to play out with. Even in a small room where you won't be mic'ing the amps & the whole drum kit, you'll want two speaker cabinets and stands for them, a monitor wedge, and at least one decent vocal mic. Second, for $500 you can definitely hook up a good setup for rehearsal. Go used. Look for a recently broken up band that is unloading its rehearsal PA: mics, stands, cabinets, and maybe a PA head. Here is my band's current rehearsal setup for vocals so you get an idea


- Mic stand

- Blue Encore 100

- Mic cable

- One Peavey 1x12 speaker cabinet (so my drummer can hear vocals)

- One Peavey monitor wedge (for me, the singer)

- speaker cable

- Behringer EUROPOWER PMP518M Powered Mixer


Third, not sure why you would want to run your guitar through the PA. When your setup is that small, it is best to not muddy up the vocals with other instruments. Let you guitar amp do that work. Also, a band should be able to mix itself (guitar, bass, and drums) so work on that.


Hope this information helps.

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