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PA advice/recommendations....

Monk Rocker

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Need to price up a PA for the rhythm section of a 25 piece swing band - ie drums, double bass(amp has balanced out), guitar, keyboard and vocals. Was thinking of a passive mixer and stereo biamped set up? Ideally would like the ability to upgrade to be able to mic the horns.

What all will be needed. Mostly play in village/church hall size venues, but do the odd outdoors performance.....

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A lot of money is the simple answer.

The more complicated answer is:


Desk (if you're looking to upgrade then get a big enough desk, maybe a 32 channel allen and Heath GL2400, £1800 roughly)

EQ's one stereo 31 band EQ,( cheap normally equals shit but have a look at dDX eq's, thinking of buying a couple of those myself at about £250 each)

At least one FX unit (check out the TC electronics M-one: dual engine, sounds decent, around £300 I think, cheaper ones for around the £120 mark)

Speakers and amps (you'd need at least 2KW)

Crossover or system controller(if the speakers don't have it built in, I'd recommend the dBX Driverack PA, £350 roughly)

Multicore (if you're not mixing on stage, at least £500 I'd think, and big enough to handle the upgrade)

Compression and gating (if required)


Depends what you feel you need, but a 31 band graphic on each monitor send is a must.


mics (you get some pretty good deals on drum sets nowadays, around £150 for a basic 5 piece kit set up, always have at least 2 spare)

Mic stands

Mic leads (always have more than you need)

DI's (at least one spare, and I rarely trust balanced out's on a bass amp, so get one for that too: it has the added advantage of still delivering the signal to the audience if the amp packs up)


Various cables to hook the system together with

Whatever cases you think you need to stop your equipment being trashed the first time the van turns a corner (Desk, amps and FOH eq/fx are fairly essential)

Someone who knows how to set-up/operate and repair a PA

A van, or the extra cost of hiring one.

Humpers (although with a 25 piece band you already have a workforce to hand)

Mains cables (one drum to run to FOH if the desk isn't onstage, and whatever else you need, and some spares/extensions but DO NOT run amps off of cable drums)

Without monitoring, you're looking at around £6-8K.

Add in some monitoring and you're looking at maybe £1500-2000 per two mixes (almost the same for 1 mix, the amps and EQ's can do two mixes so it's just a matter of buying another wedge).

All those estimates are for decent gear at retail prices, if I sat down and trawled the internet for second hand stuff, and pleaded for trade prices, and had no idea how bad Behringer were it could be cheaper.

The speakers and amps are not something I'm comfortable with buying second hand unless I'm sure they're all ok or come from a reputable dealer, but a second hand desk might provide you with a bargain.

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Thanks for that:up:

Sounds like your set up is a wee bit bigger than I'd thought. The main problems that the band have are that the double bass, drums, keys and guitar just can't be heard over the 20 odd horns, and the wee vocal PA that they use just sounds rubbish. I'd thought of a 16 channel mixer, two power amps, two subs, two full range speakers and I'd priced up a Peavey set up at around 3000 including all the cables etc. I hadn't considered eq or effects. I'd thought about a couple of active monitors as the wee desk had a monitor feed. Obviously that price didn't include cases which I strongly recommended they buy too.

I believe that they are appying for a grant from the Scottish Arts Council to help fund the system and the band are chipping in a fair bit themselves, so they'd really like something semi-decent that one of them can set it up, bearing in mind the average age of the band is about 80!!!

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How about powered speakers? Simple to set up, hard to damage, and you could get ones which could be tilted back as monitor wedges at practices.

The FBT Maxx series looks good, properly processed, lightweight (plastic cabs AND lightweight onboard amps) - I've heard nothing but good things. Ideal for those 80 year old backs! No crossovers or power amps to worry about hooking up. For those 'odd outdoor shows' I think you'd be better hiring for those events, this way you're guaranteed a sound tech and wont have the burden of hauling heavy equipment that can cope with outdoor situations around to the smaller shows.

+1 on the allen & heath recommendation. Although if you're mainly playing in small village halls, do you really think you need to mic up the horns? Something smaller like a WZ 16 might be sufficient if you decide to hire for the bigger events... ' something semi-decent that one of them can set it up' makes me think you'd be better amplifying only what you really have to. '32 channel desk micing everything' makes me think 'full time sound tech'.

At any rate, avoid cheap gear like behringer it will make you sad :(

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