Creative and in this article, I want to show you how to set up a small, basic PA speakers sound system. A lot of the things that we go through in this article, hopefully, it's short, apply to significant events as well.
Learn about PA Speakers sound system
So, when you first arrive at the venue, you want to look around and develop your strategy right away. You might be meeting an event planner or some other contact at the venue, and you need to understand what's happening and get the lay of the land, where they want the podium, where the central area is, and where the PA speakers may or may not go. As a general rule of thumb, you want the PA speakers to be in front of all microphones; that's like a best-case scenario. You can't always make that work, but you're setting yourself up for failure. Suppose you put your PA Speakers right behind the podium mic or something similar. You always want to get the central amplification away from the microphones as much as possible; you can't always do that in a practical scenario.
When I walk in the room is generally go, meet the client or meet the event planner and find out, make sure we have the right equipment and we know what the event is, and confirm all the details, like start time and all that and then the first thing I will do, is will connect the mixer to power. The reason that I join the mixer to control is that when I start at an event, I want to start with what I call big problems and work your way down to minor problems.
How to Set PA speakers & mixers
If you plug your mixer into power and there's no power, you know you have a more significant issue that you need to sort out before you start running any other cable. You need to figure out one if it's the mixer with the problem or two if it's the venue power that has the issue, in which case you need to start, you know, finding whoever is in charge of maintaining the venue and go from there.
So, here's like a small eight-channel mixer. So we'll plugin power. Power cable here and then turn the mixer on. So you can see that there's a power light here, so the mixer is on. While you're doing that, while you're plugging things in and screening the power in the back, you want to be looking at the mixer itself. You never want to be zoning out. You want to look while you're working on it, make sure the master volumes down, make specific all the channel volumes are down. Ensure that the last guy who finished with the board sets all the EQ flat; make sure that all your gains are down. You want to do that before you turn the mixer on to make sure that what comes out of the mixer when we connected to the All in one speaker system is what you expect it to be. So it would help if you started from zero, especially with an analog mixer, with a digital mixer. If you're walking in with a saved show, then that's a different story.
So the same thing, we want to make sure that the PA Speakers have power now. The PA speakers might be somewhere else in the room. We'll find out where we want to put it, so it's away from the microphone, and then we will plugin. As we're plugging it in, before you connect it to the outlet, you want to make sure that the PA Speaker are turned off, that all the gains are set to zero. In this case, we'll be feeding at line level. So you want to check all the switches, you want to turn the high pass frequency off.
You always want to be starting from zero. So we checked all that, now we can plug it in. Now, some people don't like plugging the PA speakers into power until you have all these signal cables run. Well, sometimes we're in a situation where we're doing eight of these PA speakers sound systems in a day.
So like I said, in my mind, I'll sacrifice what some people call best practice because of the practicality of you're probably in a room that has a dead outlet, and you need to know that before you start running another cable. So I'll usually plug it in, turn it on, you see that there's power, then turn it back off. You don't want the PA speakers to be turned on when you connect them to the mixer.
So as a general rule, you run the PA Speakers before you run any of the inputs. Some people like to run everything, all the information, and the PA Speakers things, before powering anything on again. I think the practicality of that is pretty terrible because you can run it all, and then you go to turn it on and figure out that you have a power issue. You know, soundchecks' in half an hour, so I think it's wiser, go through the process of confirming everything, as you do it.
Here we have PA Speakers now connected to the stereo output of the mixer, and then I'm going to turn it on. So the PA speakers are now connected to the mixer, and it's on at zero.
So the first thing I do before I check any microphones, usually cause with microphones, you have like a bunch of wireless, a bunch of wired microphones, but I like to test what I know and what I know is music from an iPhone or my phone. So let's quickly find a track, so I plug it into one of the channels at the end of the board. So I can see that it's playing on my phone.
I set the volume on my phone to 75%,make sure it's working there, and then I start by bringing up the master on the mixer, up to about 50-60%, and then I'll bring up the channel of the phone that I just plugged in. So that's pretty much it. You're just making sure that there's sound coming out of the PA Speakers .
PA speakers and Microphones Set
Now, if this were real, I'd let it go, and then I'd start wiring up the microphones, while the music's playing and while that's happening, while you're wiring up the microphones, it's good just to be listening to the room.
How echo is it?
How present is the base?
Like how does the room sound?
Is it echo or dead, or is it, what is,
what's the room doing?
You want to be thinking about this while you're running cable. So now we start on the first channel. On the mixer, everything works. On an analog mixer, everything works in channel strips, so vertical lines. So everything to do with the microphone that I plugin here is directly below it. So again, before I plug anything into the mixer, I'm making sure that everything is zeroed out. The gain is down, the compressor is off, the EQ is flat, and all the auxiliaries are down. The pan is flat, and the volume is down. Once I've confirmed all that, I will plug it in. The mixer is like an indicator here on the gain switch, which was a good starting place, so while I'm talking, I'll bring it up. Now it won't make a sound until you bring up the volume to match it.
And there we have it. So 99% of events, you leave the EQ flat unless you know what you're doing. So the mixer should point up the green knobs. If it sounds a little muddy to you, which sometimes like a wired microphone will or a vocal mic will bring the low down a touch. On this particular mixer, there's a high pass filter on it, so you can engage that and turn that on, but generally, you can tweak the mids a bit, but I mean, all the EQ is turned down and the volumes up, and that didn't do anything. If you know anything about EQ, if you make the same adjustment on all your EQs, it's just bringing the whole volume down. Generally speaking, if it's talking head or vocal-only, leave the EQ flat.
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