February 22, 2019

Let’s face it: the majority of gigging musicians take PA systems for granted. Most music venues provide a PA, and all you need to do is show up, set up your gear, and get ready to rock.

So what happens when you play at a venue that doesn’t have a PA, and asks you to bring your own? This happens a lot with venues that aren’t usually venues and are doing one-off shows, as well as house parties or impromptu outdoor gigs. Before you panic, realize that choosing the right PA, whether you’re going to buy it or rent it, is fairly simple.

Here’s what you need to consider:

  1. How many members are in your band. The PA setup required for a solo singer/songwriter and a full-blown rock band are very different. The more people you have in your band, the more speakers you’ll need to accommodate the vocalists, instruments, and percussion, if necessary.
  2. How big is the venue? Just as you would opt for a bigger bass or guitar cab for a bigger club, you want to make sure that the speaker setup you choose corresponds to the size of the venue. A single 15” speaker will do fine for a small coffee shop, but in a gym or medium-sized club you may need to utilize a set of 15” speakers or even a setup comprising of two 15" inch speakers and a subwoofer.
  3. Is the venue indoor or outdoor? Similar to the above point, you also need to take into consideration that the speaker requirements vary between indoor and outdoor situations. Sound does not travel as easily outdoors, as there are no walls for the sound waves to bounce off of, and outdoor conditions such as wind will also cause more obstacles. Generally speaking, you will also need speakers with more wattage and/or power handling to accurately reproduce the bass frequencies in an outdoor environment.
  4. How much space do you have for transportation? If your band barely fits all your gear into your van or SUV as it is, and now you’ve been tasked with bringing a PA, the system you choose has to fit, while still meeting the power and configuration requirements. Fortunately, there are many compact, powerful PA options on the market today that can fit in the space between your bass cab and your drummer’s kick.




Carvin Audio’s QXSYS15A is a 2000-watt, active loudspeaker system with Bluetooth that utilizes two 15” speakers that weigh only 42 pounds each!


Don’t forget that if you’re using an active speaker system, there is a power amplifier built in and most active systems feature multiple inputs such as the QX Series and SCx Series loudspeakers. If you opt for passive speakers, you’ll need to provide a separate power amplifier and mixer. If space is at a premium, you’ll want to opt for active speakers. 

  1. Don’t forget the cables. Lastly, don’t forget to bring the required speaker cables, and make sure they’re long enough (25 feet is usually good). By no means can you use your guitar player’s spare cable to hook up the PA, so make sure you use the right cables.

So there you have it- next time you’re asked to bring your own PA, don’t freak out and cancel the gig!

Also in Audio Info & Education

The Importance of Vocal Warm Ups
The Importance of Vocal Warm-Ups

September 01, 2021

Every musician worth their salt knows how to take care of their instrument. Guitar players know how to change and care for strings. Trumpeters know how to clean their horn. And pianists know when to wipe the keys and call a tuner.

Read More

Quick Tips for Better Vocal Mixing
Quick Tips for Better Vocal Mixing

August 19, 2021

Any vocalist will tell you – the vocal is the most important aspect of any song (unless there are none). Some musicians may disagree, but when it comes to songs with words, it’s an objective truth that the vocal will be the center of attention. Get that right, and plenty of other oddities will be ignored, forgiven, or even appreciated as artistic choice. Get it wrong, and an otherwise flawless song can sound amateurish.

Read More

5 Reasons to Mix Quietly
5 Reasons to Mix Quietly

July 30, 2021

Mixing is an interesting art. If a mix is coming together, you’ll want to jam out. And since you’re hoping people will listen loud, new mixers are often tempting to mix at high volumes. It turns out, however, that mixing at high volumes is the last thing you should do. In fact, professionals across the board use the “conversation” method of setting a listening volume for mixdown: mix at a level where you can comfortably have a conversation over the music.

Here are the top five reasons why you should mix at low volumes.

Read More