Input welcome

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by LunchBox42, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. LunchBox42

    LunchBox42 Active Member

    Hi all,

    I did a quick search and found some stuff, but nothing that really answered my questions.

    1. I am looking buying a small PA gig system. I am mostly going to be piecing together used equipment since budget is not in the thousands, and I am mostly doing it for some small events locally, not so much concerts (yet). I have been looking at getting a powered mixer for the sake of simplicity rather than having to tote around a case full of extra gear. On the same note, I do want to upgrade later, so I feel that buying a non-powered mixer would be better when trying to add on EQ's, Compressors...etc. Based on everyone's experience, which route do you think is the better route? Obviously if I had thousands of dollars I would just trick out a new rig and not care, but im not stupid, or am I rich. :)

    2. My second question is, in this exploration of used equipment, I found a guy that has a Soundcraft Spirit Powerstation 600 (powered mixer), and wanted to know if anyone has had experience with it (or similar from same company). I used to run sound for an other group a few years ago, and they used a Soundcraft mixer (non-powered) and I thought it worked great. Again, I am just looking for feedback from those that have been around the block a few times.

  2. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    I can't speak to the Powerstation 600 but I know I do own some kind of Spirit Powerstation and its the main system we use for small PA hires, its as you say, really convenient. Sound quality isn't fantastic but its a great starting point. And ours has been ours for about 4-5 years with never a repair, and it was secondhand when bought. Its flightcased though which will obviously make a difference.

    You're going to need a modular system as you progress but you can use the Spirit for powering monitor mixes in the future perhaps. Or just buy it second hand and sell it on when you are done.

    Small vocal PAs to mid-sized full-band PAs to concert PAs is a massive change at each step up, so much so that much of the gear will become invalid for your requirements.

    But you can never have too many decent rack-mounted amps - C-Audio or Crown (same ppl) are a good mid-priced choice - and an unpowered mixer with a rack amp isn't going to be any more effort than lugging around the Powerstation which is a 2-man lift in a flightcase.
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    On the few occasions that I have had to use a Powerstation 600, I've been surprised at how good it was for what it set out to be and its price. If you can get one at a decent cost, it's certainly worth considering, but, as Jeemy says, it's not the most transportable of items.

    How many channels do you need? Do you require one or more auxes for monitor mixes? Have you got condenser mics or active DI boxes that need phantom power from the mixer? What size of venues are you playing in? What have you in mind for FOH loudspeakers? How portable does it all need to be?

    Two of the most popular items in my hire stock are the Yamaha StagePAS 300 and 500. I would not recommend the 300 for anything other than a large room or small hall, but the 500 is worth considering if you want something really portable and you don't need foldback.
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Rental can be a hassle, and I choose not to do much of that. I could make a lot more money pimping out the PA system(s), but I'd rather play guitar and sing. I use my club system with the band(s) I play in - so I end up doing a lot more work for less money - but have a lot more fun. < some background on me, so you can decide if you care what I think >

    1) In your case, if it were me, I'd be willing to spend a bit more to go with separate components - for the reason you cite. The powered mixer will only get you so far, then when you're ready to expand it will limit what you can do. You're already looking ahead to upgrading, so unless it's a powered mixer you're confident will have high resale value, I'd be inclined to skip that step and go modular.

    You seem to be thinking things through very clearly, but here are some factors that would influence your decision:

    Is this mostly for fun or for profit?
    What kind of budget are you realistically thinking about?
    How many inputs do you think you need to get started?
    What size will the audience be at the events you're targeting?
    Are these events mostly indoor?
    Are you planning to mix from the stage or front of house?
    Will you need a snake?
    Do you already own anything that will be put into play?

    2) If you had to get a powered mixer that Soundcraft would be very worthy of consideration if the price is right. I have used a couple of Soundcraft's GigRac systems and been pleased with the sound quality. I also recently acquired a little powered Yamaha EMX head that has impressed me.

    Also there's always the possibility of starting with a small system using a powered mixer, and after it's paid for itself, buy another system and have two systems available for hire.

    I have enough gear to do 4 or 5 complete system rentals at a time if I needed to - ranging from Yamaha powered head and a pair of Yamaha speakers on tripods to a fairly decent club system of JBL/Crown/Crest/Soundcraft. It's nice being able to throw together a system that will fit just about anything that comes along.
  5. LunchBox42

    LunchBox42 Active Member

    Thanks for the input guys.

    As far as channels, I wanted at least 8 independent channels with their own adjustments. More than that right now is overkill, and the more channels, the higher the price. I am not looking at doing Bands in the short term, just some small community events including some choirs and 1 person acts. So 8 Channels is plenty for the time being (More channels are always better :) Just trying not to spend millions.). Again, I am still specing items, so as for FOH speakers it really depends on what I can find. I am mostly looking at Yamahas and JBLs unless someone says something different. I found a guy locally that has a pair of JBL JRX115's at $350 for the pair. The Soundcraft I mentioned, the guy was asking 350 for, but I am not sure I want to get it if I can get a decent non-powered mixer+amp for a similar cost.

    My budget is 500-700 for a mixer+amp+speakers. Now I know I will need some other stuff, but that I am not worried about. That is my budget for those three items.

    As for wattage, I would image for what I am looking at, 350/speaker would be nice but I am open to thoughts if I should go less or more. :)

    Edit: As for audience, no more say 500 hundred. For choirs and stuff it will mostly be quiet audience, not die-hard screaming fans. That will be down the road with more money.
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    The Powerstation at $350 is probably a fair price, in comparison a new Soundcraft GigRac 600 sells for $400 - similar but not quite as capable in terms of EQ and ins/outs.

    The JRX speakers are an OK budget speaker line - they a decent sounding speaker, but they fall short of the rest of the brand in sound quality. Check to make sure they're fully functional - the horns are plastic and can break right at the throat if they've been dropped or handled rough. JBL is a good place to be looking, along with Yamaha, and Community.

    I'd consider a 12" 2-way speaker for the events you're talking about. They would be smaller and lighter, and while you will sacrifice a little low-end, but they'll be smoother through the mid-range (vocal) delivery than a 15". For vocal mics any freqs. down there are nothing but trouble anyway. If you'll be pumping loud accompaniment tracks then you might need the added bass of a 15".
  7. LunchBox42

    LunchBox42 Active Member

    Yeah, I have no problem spending a few dollars on a standalone sub down the road. I am also looking at a Yamaha MG166CX for $250. Thoughts? What about Alesis and Mackie? I have never used one of their boards, so I am unfamiliar with their quality.

    I did find some nice powered Yorkvilles for 1k, but is way out of my budget and the guy wasn't willing to come down in price. :-/ Are there any specific decent quality models out there that you would recommend?
  8. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Mackie boards are great for live. You can also pick up some really nice bargains if you've got basic repair skills - I was trying to find out about an old Eaton Bray 12into2 desk I picked up the other day and there is a guy selling one on ebay for like $50. I've not even switched this on yet but it seems to be an old, wellmade, analog mixer with good foldback options.

    I really like the Bose 802/302 system but the bass bins are gigantic to lug around. They last forever though, mine is almost 20 years old to me and was 2nd-hand when I got it. You can start with the 802s and the controller box (a must for decent sound from them) and then add a second pair of 802s and the 302 bass bins for a wonderful system.

    There's lots of good stuff around but for the absolute best bang-for-the-buck on a budget, you'll need advice from the US.
  9. LunchBox42

    LunchBox42 Active Member

    So I guess my next follow up question, would be based on everyone's experience, what would you consider the top 5 manufactures for passive PA cabs, and passive live mixers?

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