How to choose the Right PA system for you…

If you don’t know what to look for in a PA system, then choosing between the myriad different options can appear to be a formidable task. However, once you know what PA systems are and what you should be thinking about when you buy one, it should be an easy purchase.

In case you’re not sure what a PA system is, we have a quick and simple explanation to inform you about what you’ll be receiving:

  • There’s an audio pick-up device, or microphone, which receives sounds waves and converts them into and electronic signal,
  • An amplifier, which will then increase the electronic signal from the microphone to a point at which it can power a speaker.
  • Speakers will then convert that electronic signal into sound waves once more.

When you’ve established the primary use for your PA system, it will be created by carefully selecting and matching the pick-up device, amplifier and speakers to meet your requirements. At Astounded, we often create convenient packages of components that have been created for various uses, but we also feel that it’s helpful to know how your requirements will shape which PA system is right for you. This way, you can make sure that you’re purchasing the most suitable PA system for your needs. There are generally five things you need to take into consideration when buying a PA system.

1.    The size of your venue and/or audience will determine the required power of your PA system

It’s really important that when you’re choosing your PA system, you choose one that has an adequate level of power for the size of your venue and audience. The power of your system will be measured by combining the watts produced by the speakers and the amplifier.

It’s also important to think about whether you’ll be using your PA system indoors or outdoors. If you’re using the system outdoors, you’ll need it to be much louder than if you were hosting it indoors. Fewer sound reflections available outdoors will result in a perceived loss of volume to listeners. You’ll find the same effect in venues with high ceilings.

If you buy a PA system that is slightly more powerful than you need, it will sound better and work more efficiently than a smaller system to produce the same volume.

2.     Is your PA system being used for speech or music?

If you’re planning to use your PA system to play music, you will find that there are some extra requirements you’ll need your system to meet.

Firstly, PA systems for music require more power than systems used for speech. Music has a wider spectrum of frequencies than speech, which means that the power, or wattage, will need to be more than double what you would use for speech.

Due to the wide range of frequencies of music, if you are buying a PA system for music, it’s a good idea to check that your system can reproduce sound in high, middle and low ranges of the sound spectrum.

If you are selecting a PA system for playing music, you should also be aware that different types of music will require different speaker sizes. Usually, the bigger the speaker, the better it will be able to reproduce a wider range of frequencies. We’d suggest that for music such as dance, large bass bins like 18” subs are ideal, while for acoustic, a 10” enclosure would be better. If your PA system is for speech, a simple horn will do the trick.

PA systems for music will often include individually tuned speakers for various parts of the audio spectrum as music sounds better with more speakers. Additionally, while a mono system will be okay for speech, music sounds a lot better in stereo.

3.     Portability of your PA system

You may need to be able to take your PA system to various venues, and at this point, portability becomes quite an important feature to an ideal system. The heavier PA systems in particular have responded to this and wheels, handles and cases have all become increasingly important design features.

A battery powered PA system is a possibility you may want to consider if you need to move your system throughout the day. Obviously, you will need to know how long you’ll be using the system and if the battery capacity will meet your needs, as is the case with all battery powered electronics.

If you or the person using the audio device will also need to be mobile, you may want to consider choosing a system that supports a headset or a wireless microphone, and this will have an impact on your choice of PA system.

4.     Expanding your PA system

If you plan to use your PA system in the same way on a long-term basis, you probably won’t need to think about changing components or expanding your system. But if it is likely that your needs will change over time, you should consider buying a PA system that can be added to or altered. This will save you money as you won’t need to buy additional systems to meet your requirements. Schools and place of worship may want to consider a scalable PA system.

You can expand your PA system in a number of ways, such as adding microphones, speaker stands, companion speakers and cables. You will need multiple input and output jacks to make this possible.

You will need to make sure you have the relevant accessories if you’re planning to integrate additional inputs such as a computer or mp3s, or make use of additional speakers. Most PA systems will include essential speaker stands and cables.

5.     Budget for your PA system

It may seem obvious, but the more you spend on your PA system, the more power and features you’ll be able to buy. A bigger budget will also be able to get you improved sound quality and better engineering of your equipment. Having said that, with the advances in audio technology, you don’t have to spend a fortune in order to get a decent system. Keep in mind which features you’ll need, as it’s pointless investing in additional features you won’t be using. However, if you think you will be adding to your PA system in the future, try to choose a system that will allow you to do so with ease.

If you’re looking for a PA system, take a look at our range of PA systems, or come and visit us at our Lancaster showroom.

Posted on Monday, February 2nd, 2015 in News