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I'm in a band and we just started out, but I need to know what speakers we should get. Like I said we're just starting out so we might not need them for a while, but I still want to be prepared. We have a drummer, an electric guitarist, a bass player, and a pianist. We would sort of all share the vocals.

I'm looking for speakers that are easy to use. Basically I would like to be able to get to a concert plug in our stuff, and play. I don't want to really worry about the speakers. I've been looking online for speakers but I have no idea what half of the stuff they say even means.

I'm honestly not really sure where we would be playing, but probably relatively small venues. I don't know which instruments I would need to put through the speakers, I think just the vocals (2 or 3) and the piano. Any suggestions on what to buy?

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Hi. I've changed the title of your question to better capture the question. Sorry if I lost your intention, please change if so. Some more information is needed, like the size of the rooms you'll be playing, how much of a racket you want to make, which instruments should be put out through the PA and so on. –  Meaningful Username Jun 12 at 14:32
    
As the question is currently worded, it might get closed (I am not voting for close though) because it is considered off-topic: "Questions seeking recommendations for equipment are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve." It also is a little too localized. Maybe you (or we) can re-word it towards "What kind of speakers are less complex to implement in X scenario" or "things to consider in a band PA" or something around that? –  JCPedroza Jun 12 at 14:33
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Closing people: This is related to performing music, extreme prejudice. It's not "what brand", it's "what type of equipment". The obsolete part when it comes to equipment does not fit music equipment very well either. –  Meaningful Username Jun 12 at 14:34
    
Suggestion for scope change, to avoid closure of questions like these: meta.music.stackexchange.com/a/808/8682 –  Meaningful Username Jun 12 at 14:46
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I’m generally opposed to shopping/list/recommendation questions, and I have spoken out against them many times here, but even I must admit that we could probably afford to be lenient when it comes to helping out newbies with general equipment advice like this, especially for “timeless” equipment. I think it's a good question. –  Bradd Szonye Jun 12 at 23:34

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Mainly, you should consider the number of inputs, as well as the wattage. You mentioned that you have a pianist, electric guitarist, bassist, and drummer, who all share vocals. So first and foremost, you're going to need at least 4 mic inputs, as well as 3 quarter inch inputs, if your guitar players and pianists are going to be plugged directly into the PA system, which could make mixing easier, since you can control most of the sound from a central location.

If you're going to be playing smaller venues, then you will have to be clever with drum placement so that you can get a good sound. If you sought to mic the drums, then you're going to need a mixer with a lot of mic inputs. You should also definitely get some monitors so that the band can hear themselves. Having monitors is very beneficial for the performers.

This is a pretty decent All-in-one sort of PA package, that should produce plenty of volume for smaller venues. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PassVenue/

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Thank you @MrTheBard that helped a lot –  Brant Wilson Jun 12 at 15:45

Defer this decision until you know where you're going to play.

I'm going to assume you have an acoustic drumkit, which you won't be mic'ing up. So the drums set a baseline volume which the other instruments and voices need to match.

You actually don't need much to achieve this. The guitarist just needs a modest amp - one step up from a practice amp, something like the Roland Cube (not the MicroCube). The bassist needs something a bit bigger, because bass needs to shift a lot of air.

I'd suggest that the keyboard also be plugged into a cabinet. It could be a similar size/power to the guitar amp, unless your keyboard is expected to provide bass elements, in which case it will need to be larger and more powerful. But do make sure it's a keyboard/PA amp, designed to cleanly amplify without adding distortion or tone.

That just leaves microphones. It's possible your first venue will have its own PA, in which case, use it. Even if it doesn't, your second might - so hire (rent) a PA instead of buying one at that stage. You don't need much - a mixer with as many inputs as there are voices, and another small PA amp/cabinet.

At this level, monitors are a bit of a luxury, but you'll be grateful for them. So if they're on offer, take them. You might be able to improvise monitors by using the practice amps you use at home.

If and when you move on to bigger venues, it becomes all the more reasonable to expect the venue to have its own PA. I would resist the urge to buy instrument amps that will fill large venues. Play at the volume you practice at; point mics at your on-stage cabinets and have the house PA amplify them at the audience. It should be quieter on stage than in the crowd. DI where it makes sense.

Some acts fill the stage with huge cabinets. Some of them are actually using them. Lots of them, however, are just for show -- the real sound is from a small mic'd up cabinet. Seasick Steve plays festival main stages with a MicroCube.

It may be that you find yourself on a circuit in which you frequently play larger venues that don't have their own PA. Only when that turns out to be the case, should you consider buying your own PA -- by which time you will have picked up enough experience with hired equipment and house equipment that you'll know what you want.

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+1 for pointing out that a lot of venues will have their own PAs. Even small dive bars will often have them if they regularly invite musicians to play there. –  Bradd Szonye Jun 12 at 23:40

I'm going to play devil's advocate here. A PA is a collection of parts. That means you can start out simply and add pieces as the need arises.

Here's what I would do: Look at the plastic-bodied powered speakers. They have amps, EQ and one or more inputs. You can begin with only one or two and plug mics directly into them and off you go. If money is an issue, buy inexpensive ones. I have a pair of 12-inch Harbinger budget units from GC that cost me all of $300 on sale. They don't sound as nice as QSC, but they are surprisingly good. Later when you build out your PA by getting a mixer and better powered speakers, the cheap ones will make great monitors. If you have more than one singer, monitors are really important. I have a good ear while singing, but my other singer needs to hear herself clearly to stay on pitch.

For small gigs, you shouldn't need to mic the drums. One important word of advice is to learn to control your volume. Bands sound better when they are not drowning out the room. This has several benefits: you will more easily get a good balance, the crowd and venue won't hate you, and, you will be better able to hear each other.

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Hold on for now - things may change, you may decide that actually two mics will suffice, since you could share, no need to mic up drums/gtr/bass, etc. Use two or three rehearsal studios, and try out their gear. Talk to the guys there to get some more ideas.I'm going to disagree with slim and state that you shouldn't need monitors. Place a p.a. right, use sensible volumes and they won't be needed., Used badly, all they will do is increase the sound pressure already on stage.

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