How to Handle PA Requirements for Your First Big Gig

Posted on: 21 August 2018

If you're planning to stage an outdoor concert, no matter how low-key you think this should be, you've got to take a professional stance when it comes to configuring the sound. While attendees may be friendly and understand that this is largely an amateur production, they're not going to take too kindly to poor acoustics, badly-configured equipment and incorrect settings. Why do you need to have at least an entry-level education in public address systems?

Basic Equipment

Firstly, it's important not to get overwhelmed, even though you know this is a rather technical area. You may realise that you need at least a basic set of equipment but for a gig like this, you don't need to reinvent the wheel. At the least, you will need three essential components, including amplifications, input and output transducers. This can be as simple as two turntables, a pair of speakers and microphone, together with line-level output feeds from any onstage instruments.

Proper Calculations

Perhaps more importantly, you need to know how your event is going to come across in the specific space. The larger the venue, the more powerful a PA system you will need, and you have to take some measurements to calculate this.

Sound Output

For example, you need to know how far the sound has to travel, which will be determined by the distance from the back of the room to the speaker setup. If the venue is relatively large, then you have to take into account the signal loss, for those people who are going to be standing right in the back. Once you know the output of the speaker then you'll be able to calculate the amount of signal loss using algorithms, so you can stage "fill" speakers at strategic locations if need be.

Speaker Range

Secondly, you should choose the right range of speakers for the type of music you're going to play. This will depend on the genre, as some speakers have a lower sensitivity rating. This means that they will not be able to convert the input as effectively for "heavier" styles of music.

You may need to match the speakers with some powered amps, especially if you're working in a larger venue. This requires some technical calculations and you should talk with your equipment supplier for further guidance.

Strategic Placement

Once you have taken care of the audience, remember to place speakers strategically for the performers as well. These monitor speakers are crucial to help avoid the distortion that they will otherwise experience, as they inevitably hear output from the main room speakers. It's worth paying attention to all the details while you are getting ready for your big night. After all, this could be the start of a brand new career.