Noob Question: How to get instruments into PA?

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by vttom, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    I've been playing in a church band for a couple of years now. We've been using a Peavey KB3 as our sole amplifier for 1 mic, electrical guitar, electric bass, and electronic drums.

    But that maxes out the available input channels and I'd like to be able to add 1 or 2 more mics and maybe 1 more guitar.

    So I'm looking for a new amp.

    So far, I've been looking at PA systems (eg Yamaha Stagepass) because they come with multiple mic inputs, and are modular, so they easier to schlep around (the KB weighs a frickin' ton). However, most of the PAs I've looked at do not have instrument inputs, just mics and line-in.

    My question comes down to this....

    How do I best get my instruments into the PA? Do I need an additional dongle that plugs into the line-in on the PA or can I just adapt the 1/4 jack to XLR and go straight into the mic inputs?

    Why don't PAs typically have instrument inputs, anyway?

    Lastly, will the sound be adequate from the PA without dedicated guitar/bass amps?
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    You are asking for a bout a book worth of info. Here is an example of agood book on the subject. Basically, you are pushing the limits of a compact PA/ powered mixer system. You need a more complex PA with a larger mixer and dedicated power amps. The Yamaha book is a good place to start. Good info for newbies and written so that clergy, boards of directors can understand what is needed.
  3. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you actually have a powered speaker...
    Those don't mix, per se.

    You definitely need a bigger scale system, than a one-size fits all bit of kit.
    This or something like it will do the job. Depends on a lot of factors.

    Bob, that's for the Kindle version... not the printed copy. At $10, I'd've bought it by now. Well, £8 or something.
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Good catch. Fixed it. The Church Sound book isn't in the same class as the Yamaha Handbook, but it is a great communication tool. When you need to explain budget items it comes in handy.
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    1) I assume since you've been managing with a KB3, the platform is cozy and the band isn't spread out very far. In which case, you can run standard 1/4" instrument cables to the 1/4" line ins on almost any mixer (powered or otherwise) with plenty of gain.

    2) If your instrument cables are over ... let's say, 20ft. you might be better served with a direct box, or other interface to adapt your signal to a balanced XLR and use a mic cable for the longer runs, which is in turn plugged into a mic input on the mixer. You'll lose less signal that way and reject most (if not all) of the noise instrument cables are much more likely to pick up.

    3) Bass guitar and acoustic guitar can be made to sound very decent plugged directly into a mixer. Electric guitar --- not so much. For that you need to plug into a reasonably good guitar specific pre-amp before the mixer channel. With your current system I'm sure you have to use some restraint with the drums so they don't overpower the rest.

    4) Assuming you've got reasonably good instruments and vocals, the quality of the mixer, having an adequately powered amplifier and fidelity of the speakers will ultimately determine if it sounds good or not.

    5) Does this equipment get moved often enough that weight is an issue? The Stagepass 500 is every bit as heavy as the KB3.

    I hope that helps. What part of the world are you writing from? - so I have some idea what might be available to you.
  6. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    You guessed right. We are a cozy quartet. We played under a tent last weekend and fit on an 8'x4' plywood "stage" with room to spare.

    That's good to know. I could ask our guitar-player to bring his practice amp. It very likely has a preamp out that could go into the PA mixer.

    You are quite right.

    We only play once or twice a month. I personally own the amp, so I have to lug it to/from the site every time we play.

    Burlington, Vermont. We have a pretty decent independent pro-music store called "Advance". There's also a small, family-owned music store, Contois, that deals almost exclusively in Yamaha products. There's also a Daddy's Junky Music.

    BTW - I'm not looking to "blow the roof" off the place. It's more about ease of use and integration than power. To give you a sense... One of our members plays an un-mic'd/un-amped acoustic guitar, so that become our reference level for setting the vocals and electric instrument levels.
  7. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Thanks for the tip. I definitely think I'll buy that book.
  8. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    That's precisely the type of kit I'm looking to upgrade to.
  9. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Ok. So I've more-or-less settled on the Yamah Stagepas 500. But then I found this...

    The speakers are bigger, the mix/amp has F/X, graphics EQ, powered monitor output (for a total of 4x200=800W, so more total power), and includes stands, mics and cords.

    This looks like a "more for less" package compared to the Stagepass 500. Am I missing something?
  10. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Purchase made...

    OK. So I visited my local Yamaha dealer (a family-run outfit). They hooked me up with an EMX312 an a pair of C112V's. I gotta wait ~1wk for it to come from the warehouse. Looking forward to that.
  11. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    YES they have a mixer. Please do research before posting.
  12. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    I know they mix, but it's not exactly a "mixer" in a full sense. Kind of like how these aren't kitchens..
    It's a technicality either way.
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Good choice Tom. I think you'll be very happy with your new Yamaha set-up. I don't know how they do it, but even their most affordable equipment is still very good sound quality. Weight-wise, those EMX mixers are extremely lightweight and the speakers should be very manageable. You'll have a lot more power and control with the EMX than you've been working with up to now, the built-in reverb is very respectable too.

    Money well-spent in my opinion. Nice going, and good luck.
  14. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    I would have gotten the S112v, they C112v's are aimed toward permanent installation and lack carpet which will withstand more abuse when moving them around gigs...
  15. vttom

    vttom Active Member

    Well, my EMX312 + C112Vs arrived the other day. I hooked it all up in my living room, plugged in my iPod, and rattled the windows at about 1/4 turn on the Master volume. Nice!

    I tried out my wife's bass and that really got things shaking.

    I plugged in a mic and played with the effects. The revebs are good, but not sure if I'll wind up using those at all. The places we tend to play generally already have lots of natural reverb.

    The chorus effects are interesting. I've heard stand-along chorus effects which sound like they're trying to mimic 2 or 3 part harmony by synthesizing a 3rd step and a 5th step above the fundamental. But this chorus effect sounds more like it's just emphasizing some harmonics and tries to make it sound like more than 1 person is singing in unison.

    Also, I'm loving the EQ.

    Lastly, I borrowed a Fender PA that's similar to the Stagepas (channle count and feature-wise, that is; I won't attempt to make any comparisons about the sound quality). After that experience, I'm VERY glad I went with the EMX rather than the Yamaha Stagepas 500 (which I also considered).
  16. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Glad to hear you made a great decision after doing some careful homework. I wish more people that are trying to get into something new be it PA or recording would do the same. This forum is filled with questions on how to make something do something it was not really intended for or why can't I get high quality out of very marginal equipment. It all starts with good choices.

    I absolutely agree with your thinking re: reverb. If there is a good deal of natural reverb using the built in reverb effect usually makes horrible mud. The chorus effect in this amp is not the type of doubler or tripler to which you were referring (a 3rd, a 5th, etc.) but works like this (see quote below) and can add a little depth to vocals or just be annoying LOL!
    " Here's how it works: An audio signal that is to be processed with chorus is first delayed by a small amount. (Typical delay times are small, in the range of 5 to 40 milliseconds.) This produces a doubling effect. Each delayed signal is then sent to the LFO. The LFO takes the delayed signal and moves its pitch up and down, changing the tuning from sharp to flat. The LFO usually runs at a slow speed; 1 to 5 oscillations per second are typical. The output of the delayed and pitch-altered signal is then mixed in with the original audio. This blending completes the chorusing effect." from Whatis?.com
    Most chorus effects have two dials, one changes the delay, the other varies the amount of pitch shift.

Share This Page