First of all, I am not very expert in this section. I mostly play acoustic guitar as a hobby. I am not a professional musician sometimes play in front of small audience. I have an electric guitar and recently I bought a Zoom G3xn multi-effect processor and I liked it. I also have a small guitar amp (Yamaha THR5). I have tried my electric guitar using Zoom G3xn and Yamaha THR5, but did not like the output. The sound was quite dull. But the processor sounded nice in my headphones. So, the Yamaha THR5 did not perform well.

Now I am thinking of buying a better amp. Then it came to my mind if I should buy a monitor/PA system instead of an amp. Because I already have a processor, so no need for another built-in processor based amp. The Zoom G3xn has rhythm machine and I love to play with rhythm. But in the amp the rhythm sounds dull. Specially the kick/bass. May be because a guitar amp is not built for that. That is why I was thinking of buying a monitor/PA system.

Please give me some idea if I am thinking it right. I am also concerned about using using it while live performance (casual) with looper and rhythm. May be also possible to use a mic for vocal. If monitor/PA is right for my situation, then please also suggest some models which are not so expensive.

7 Answers 7


Based on the scenario you described and the way you plan to use your system, I would recommend a Powered Speaker/Monitor/Portable PA.

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This Harbinger Vari V2212 600W 12-Inch Two-Way Class D Loudspeaker is available at Guitar Center in US for $199.99 US. It has 3 channels and will accept XLR or 1/4 inch line input and also RCA input. It has an XLR output that allows you to connect multiple powered speakers. It can be pole mounted or used as a floor wedge monitor.

A PA system is designed to cover a wider audio frequency spectrum than a guitar amp which is designed to cover a more narrow band width specific to guitar.

You can run acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocal mics, instrument mics, keyboards, backing tracks, rhythm tracks, or background break music through a PA system. You can run an electric guitar through an electric guitar amp.

PA speakers usually have at least two speakers to cover a larger frequency of sound. Most bands, duos and solo performers use a PA for vocals and acoustic guitar.

An electric guitar amp usually has a clean and distortion channel and is optimized for electric guitar. Some performers will use a PA system for vocals and run their electric guitar through an amp. In a larger venue they will mic the amp to send the sound from the amp into the PA system. I own one personally and use it as both a floor monitor with my larger PA system or as a standalone PA for small venues and easy setup. I use a vocal processor that also has guitar effects and get good results with acoustic/electric guitar and vocals.

By using your multi effects processor you could get away with using the PA system in lieu of a dedicated electric guitar amp.

Your rhythm track will sound better through a PA system.

A powered PA Monitor Speaker with at least 500 watts of power will be very versatile. Affordable versions are made by Behringer and Harbinger, and Yamaha. For a little more money you can get a Mackie Thump. Mackie makes several other affordable versions of portable powered speaker/PA systems as well.

I would stay away from anything less than 200 watts in the affordable powered speaker line. I have heard some of the lower priced lower powered speakers and was very disappointed in the way they sounded.

Most of the monitor PA systems can be used as a wedge type floor monitor or pole mounted. By setting your speaker behind your shoulder facing the audience, you can use it as both the PA for the audience and a monitor for yourself. Just be sure that your microphone is not pointed towards the speaker.

If you go with a monitor/PA - be sure to get one that has an output to allow for daisy chaining another monitor/PA or two (most do). Then when you can afford a second monitor, you can use one as a floor monitor and another can be pole mounted in front of you facing the audience. Later still, you can add a second pole mounted powered PA speaker to cover a wider area for the audience.

Even the lower priced monitor/powered speaker/PA speakers often have 3 separate channels to allow for individual controls for vocals, guitar and rhythm track.

  • @Imrul.H You are certainly welcome. I fixed my picture. Realized I inserted two pictures of the back instead of one of the front and one of the back. Most PA speakers have at least two speakers - each for a different frequency range. The one shown has a 12 inch Low Frequency which would help bring out kick drum and a High Frequency Horn which would bring out the cymbals on drum tracks. Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 14:48

Are you using the amp and speaker simulation in the Zoom? If so that may be why you don't like it paired with the amp. Imagine running into one amp, putting a mic on the speaker, then putting it through another amp. Some details of output levels aside, that's conceptually what you're doing.

Do you like the sound of the amp by itself and do you like that more or less than the Zoom by itself? For instance if you like the amp better then try turning the amp and speaker modeling off on the Zoom and use only the other effects.

Otherwise, yeah, a PA might work well for you. Or if it's mostly for home use, maybe recording monitors. Try taking your guitar and pedal into a music store and try it through some of the PAs (with the amp and speaker modeling on) they have there. That should give the quickest and surest idea of whether it's a good idea for you.


A PA is certainly a good investment, because it can be used for any signal source. A decent PA will sound pretty similar to what you hear in your headphones, so if you enjoy that sound you should also enjoy the PA sound.

However, I wouldn't be so sure if that is musically so clever. Digital amp simulations have something of a tendency to sound impressive when you're playing on your own via headphones, but as soon as you put them in any musical context with other real instruments come out rather tinny/hollow/mumbly or just “artificial”.

Analogue electric guitar amps are the opposite: they may feel unforgiving and harsh or blunt on close testing, and are completely rubbish for any non-guitar signal, but these characteristics turn out to be exactly what makes a good, honest, clear electric guitar sound in a mix.

Now, that was a bit overgeneralised. There are digital amp sims (in particular VST ones) which get indistinguishably close to their analogue antetypes. And every analogue amp sounds different. The Yamaha THR5 is in fact not an analogue guitar amp in the classical sense, but itself a digital amp sim with built-in speakers. Using such an amp together with an external processor makes very little sense, it's really intended only for plugging in a guitar and practising or rehearsing with a quiet-ish band. The up-side is that, unlike an analogue amp, it should be possible to set this amp to almost-completely-neutral. Try the “flat” setting or the Aux in (not sure if that's actually an input).

It still won't sound ok for drums – guitar-amp speakers are a purely midrange affair, they cover neither the low bass needed for a convincing bass drum nor the HF transient clarity and stereo width needed for the cymbals. But frankly, playing with a drum machine is obnoxious anyway, the only way to give it something of a charme is to deliberately go for a lo-fi flair (for which a cheap guitar cabinet is just the right thing). But that's just my personal opinion.

tl;dr: if you want to make music, buy a small tube guitar amp, get together with a drummer (or cajon player or something) and a bassist, and form a band.

Getting a PA is sensible anyway, if only for amplifying vocals.

If you just want to have fun with your effects machine, you may as well stick to the headphones alone.


If you have a rhythm machine in your effect processor you want to work with, a PA will be a better choice than a guitar amp. For getting a bass drum's low end represented properly, you'd need to work with a guitar amp suitaed for bass, and that would work even worse with hihats than a lead guitar amp. Also you could not employ any distortion on the amp itself so whatever non-linear effects you'd have there would be wasted.

Now a PA is built for projection of sound rather than local sound. That makes it hard to balance with other players if they play through instrument amps. So a reasonable compromise might be a keyboard amp: those have the range and frequency response to work with rhythm machines and pre-curated instrument sounds.


I'm actually using a Harbinger M100BT PA system with my electronic drums. I admit some depth of sound is lost, but other than the lack of a ringing bass i have no complaints as the mids and highs are very accurate. The bass kick originally exceeded the peak, but after messing around with the EQs of both my drums and my amp, I actually found a good middle ground where only the absolute hardest kicks had any chance of peaking.

My main reason for using a PA was the desire to play along with recordings. I play along with songs either from my band or from my iTunes and as an audiophile, I wanted an accurate stereo setup. Long story short I was willing to sacrifice a little bass accuracy for the ability to play along with my music without groaning at the sound quality.


If you can use a PA instead of an Amp? Definitely yes. The reason that many guitarists hesitate is because they are used to using the effect processor/overdrive that is in the Amp they are used to. If you use a PA, you are referred to effect pedals or another separate effect processor. The guitarist may not recognize himself when playing troug the PA if he is used with is Amp. A general advice, if you sit alone as a guitarist at home and play without anything else or play solo in front of public, use an Amp. If you want to play with others, or have music tracks from USB, PC or cellphone to play with, use a PA and an sound mixer. You get a lot more with using a PA instead of an Amp


I have a very similar situation and gear. I also started with acoustic and had an acoustic amp (a Marshall and also a THR5), and then got an electric and a G3XN. I bought an Alto PA speaker (8”, 1100 watts), and it works very well plus it makes the drums sound good. Interestingly, I’ve tried the electric with the G3XN going into the acoustic amps instead of the PA speaker and couldn’t get a good sound, even though acoustic amps and particularly my Marshall (AS50D) are basically mini PA speakers. I also tried a studio monitor and same thing. Even the headphone out of the mixer doesn’t sound as good as the PA speaker. What’s happening is likely that the PA speaker does color the sound (it’s not an FRFR), and I’ve optimized my patches based on that sound so now they don’t sound so good elsewhere. I’ve thought of buying a real amp, perhaps a tube amp, but considering I loop and use drums for backing and even sing sometimes, it would complicate my setup. The PA speaker is way more versatile and sounds nice and loud.

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