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How to Set up a PA System

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by: MLS_Admin
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Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2012 Time: 7:20 PM

There are a few different types of PA systems: Some are more inclusive units, and others are very complex and quite large (this is common in most venue owned ones).

Setting up a PA system can be a real pain sometimes, but taking the time to do things the correct way will only make your sound much better.

The first thing you do is get your monitors, speakers, snake box and whatever else you have, out and in basic positions. Hopefully you won't have to untangle many cables, as this slows down the setup process dramatically. It's a good idea to learn how to roadie-rap a cable, it helps a lot for next time.

Depending on how far the mixer is, you'll probably end up using a snaked cable system to run out to the board. Once all your gear is in position, start hooking up all your stage mics to the snake box. Most of your outputs are going to be color coded for your groups. If your memory can be foggy, it may be a good idea to put down masking-tape labels on your board and snake box-letting you know what is plugged in where.

Once you have decided where you want to plug everything into, then it's time to output to your main EQs. A quick note: If you have an effects rack, hook up your final output (in the effects chain) into the proper input/output loop ports. Now, double check that you've hooked everything to the proper inputs and outputs, and zero off your faders.

You're finally ready to run the mixer's output to the main EQs: Two are needed for controlling the monitors and speakers separately. Next, plug in your main EQ outputs to their correct amps.

In more complex configurations you will be dealing with a PA system that has an amp for specific ranges. This is important for the next step: Plugging in the speakers. Always adhere to the speaker's range limits (e.g., don't plug in any monitors/speakers that are designed for high end frequency into the subwoofer/low end section. And make sure you know all your speakers' ratings (this means their wattage tolerance at set ohms).

You don't want to output 8 ohms of 350 watts into a 4 ohm 350 watt speaker, because 8 ohms at 350 watts is actually 700 watts at 4 ohms. This signal will blow those speakers out real fast (since they are designed to handle half that wattage); just make sure you do all the math and understand your volume limits.

Once you have the speakers hooked up: Turn on your mixer, then the power amplifier. This is reversed for turning them off, as by doing so incorrectly can cause some serious damage to the equipment. Lastly, you'll want to hook up a music player into the mixer. This is for audio playback to set the main EQ levels for the room. When it comes to your speaker/monitor placement, it's going to be based on the venue, and on how the band does their setup.

About the Author

Edward Kendricks writes for Edisav, a supplier of audio visual equipment.

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