Preparing for Your First Big Gig? How to Choose Your PA System Carefully

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If you and your friends are quality musicians and you've been practising at home in your garage for some time, you may be very happy with the way that things have progressed. You may certainly have aspirations for the "big time" and now want to make the giant leap, so that you can play in front of a live audience. In order for you to do this, you have to think about your sound system seriously. The equipment that you use in your garage will invariably be insufficient, especially if you want to make a great initial impression, so where do you begin?

Breaking It Down

A good quality PA system will rely on four separate components and you need to choose each of these very carefully as you proceed.


To begin with, decide whether you are going to get condenser or dynamic microphones. The former has its own power source and tends to give you a better quality output, although it can be very sensitive to other noises in the background.


You will then need to choose a mixer depending on how many different input sources you have. For example, each microphone will need to be plugged directly in there, as will other instruments, like your guitars. Choose a good quality mixer, so that you can achieve the perfect balance of sound and if you want to achieve some special effects to really wow your audience, get an upgraded mixer with enhanced capability.


In between the mixer and the actual speakers is a very important component called the amplifier. This converts the output audio signal and magnifies it through a variety of different frequencies before sending it to the speaker. Lower-end mixers may incorporate an amplifier, but for best results you should consider a stand-alone unit.


Get a sufficient number of speakers for the size of your room and understand that you will likely need individual tweeters and woofers carefully spaced if you are to achieve the right type of sound output. Usually, the primary speakers will need to be elevated, so that they are at "ear" level.

Choosing Carefully

Get a PA system that is rated for greater capacity than you actually need. After all, you don't want to run any system at full capacity because this will invariably cause distortion when you get to peak performance. Remember also that if you happen to be performing outdoors, you will need an even bigger capacity system, as the sound will tend to "escape" rather than be reflected off the walls at an inside venue.

Getting the Right Kit

Have a word with a company that specialises in providing PA systems for music gigs, so that you get the right type of equipment for your big day.