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!

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