Public address or PA systems are not only used to give announcements in schools, malls, sports stadiums, and airports. Since they amplify sound, they are also an essential feature in churches, clubs, and bars where music has to be heard throughout the place.
PA systems comprise of different professional audio tools that work together to provide audible sounds from instruments, voices, and other acoustic sources. When each piece of equipment is working together and set up properly, everything said or played using the system will be heard clearly.
Choosing the right system on your first try is the smartest way to obtain audio equipment that works and will stay functional for a long time. It will also allow you to avoid a lot of hassles and unnecessary expenses that come with frequent malfunctions and having the system replaced or repaired by pros.
How to Choose the Ideal PA System
Below are five tips that will help you find the best audio system for your money:
1. Determine your specific requirements
A basic PA system is made up of a pickup device (i.e., a microphone), amplifier, and loudspeakers. However, you may need more equipment and tools depending on where and how often you will use it.
If the PA system will be used primarily for playing music, such as in a bar, club, or arena, your system should be able to cover and reproduce a scale range of audio frequencies, from high to low ranges.
Additionally, stereo sound is better than mono when you are listening to music. As such, it is best to get speakers with this audio quality.
Lastly, more speakers always translate into better sound. PA systems designed for music usually have individually tuned single speakers put together in a package to produce a full frequency range.
If you want the best speakers, they should also have a woofer for low audio frequencies, a horn for mid-range audible frequencies, and a tweeter for high ones.
2. Understand the equipment’s power requirements
The bigger your venue and number of listeners or audience, the more energy your PA system needs. As such, you have to consider the size of your premises and the wattage and power of the amplifiers when shopping for this audio feature.
Also, consider the setting where your PA system will be installed and used. If they will serve as sound reinforcement at outdoor venues or events, the best type of equipment that will work in such areas requires higher wattage.
An insider tip you should follow when shopping for a PA system is to overestimate your wattage requirements. Audio equipment and tools with higher needs are more efficient and produce better sounds than those that use small amounts which will work at close to capacity.
3. Consider getting a portable PA system
If you need to use the PA system in various locations, a portable one will save you a lot of money and hard work in the long run.
Audio tools and equipment that come with handles, wheels, and compact cases are easier to transport. As such, you can bring them wherever you need to use them.
Additionally, consider the frequency with which you need to move the PA, along with the distance. If you do this often and to far-off places, you have to narrow down your options to the lighter equipment pieces and tools.
Consider getting battery-powered audio equipment and tools as well if you will use them in places without electrical outlets. There are PA systems with rechargeable batteries — an option you should think about if you want more eco-friendly devices.
Wireless microphones are a must, too, if you need to use them in various places. Make sure the PA system you will get can support these devices.
4. Think about the need to expand your PA system in the future
If the PA system will be used in a school, airport, and other large venues where there is a possibility of expansion, consider getting a system that can grow with your needs.
By investing in an expandable system, you can avoid the need to buy a second or third one, which often requires a bigger outlay.
Expanding your PA system can be done in various ways. Adding microphones, companion speakers, speaker stands, and extra cables is the simplest technique for doing so.
Buying a PA system with multiple inputs and out jacks will help you with this.
Additionally, it would be a good idea to get audio equipment that has additional outputs for active and passive speakers. Ideally, they should also have extra lines for connecting portable digital recorders and other multimedia devices.
If you already know that you need additional audio tools and items, consider getting extra cables, microphones, and stands, and speaker stands now, too.
5. Consider your budget
Lastly, the more features and higher power a system has, the more expensive it is. If you don’t want to invest more than you have to in your new PA feature, set a realistic budget first before you start shopping.
Identifying your audio needs first will allow you to purchase a PA system that meets all these requirements without wasting money. Additionally, it can help you avoid buying one with features that you are unlikely to use.
In case you are not sure if you need a particular feature or not, choose a system that will allow you to add them later on.
When you’re ready to upgrade your PA system or invest in your first one, make sure you buy the right one by following these tips.
Amrit Shivlani is the Founder and CEO at Music Majlis, a community-driven e-commerce platform that offers a wide variety of musical instruments and equipment for every musician and sound professional. The company’s goal is to make music-making, recording, producing and mixing accessible and available to everyone.
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