PA Upgrade - Help Mu Please

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Jeemy, May 3, 2011.

  1. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Hi,

    I'm looking for an improvement to my current PA. I'd like the system to be able to run a full mic'd up 6-piece band (drums, bass, guitar x 2, keys, vox x 3) with decent effects, switchable via MIDI. Playing to halls of approx 100-300 people.

    A lot of the posts on here are looking at a £1000 budget or around there, so although I've searched I need to move up a level from the standard prosumer brands, and I am very unfamiliar with whats available.

    At present my system uses 2 Crown XLS 402 rack amps. The front end is a Mackie 1604 VLZ which runs via the Bose 802-C controller to the two amps, which then power the 802s (2 per side) and 302s (1 per side). However I've started using Peavey HySis 115 bass bins instead of the 302s as they are way lighter and I'm not noticing a different.

    For effects I'm using a TC Electronic M300 in dual mode so reverb on one Aux and multieffects on another.

    I then use 3 Voicesolo 300XTs on 3 Auxes for the 3 vocalists/instrumentalists and a pair of peavey powered floor wedges (master + slave) for the bassist and drummer.

    As you can see its quite a compact system and I'd like to try and keep it that way - especially as our rehearsal room where it lives and is used between gigs is on the first floor!

    I have the following pieces of equipment which I am planning on implementing in the following ways:

    Behringer Composer - apparently one of the few good pieces they make. Vaguely considering using this for compression somewhere, probably on a backing vocalist and/or kick drum when needed.

    FMR RNP & RNC. Going to start using these on the main vocalist and one of the backing vocalists.

    Phonic Stereo Compressor - unsure how good this is, probably in line with the Behringer.

    DBX DriveRack PA+ (older version with dark blue front) - possibly if I stop using the Bose 802s, I will start using this across the mix bus.

    This will give me after compression on 3 vocals, 3 further compressable inserts if I want them, plus compression across the mix bus.

    I either use this system just with 3 vocal mics, and occasionally a
    monitor feed for a guitar or something if its situated the far side of the stage from somebody.

    Or I mic up kick, snare, overhead (1 mono), DI the bass & keys, and mic up the 2 guitars. I've had no real sound issues but feel its a bit limited still.

    So basically I feel the systems weak points are:

    - the Mackie desk - its going to get more and more unreliable as time goes by, and although for £280 I can have it brought back to spec with aftermarket connectors, faders & so forth, I don't know if the money would be better spent elsewhere

    - the Bose 802s. Although I think they sound better than most cheap PA gear out there, they have an upper volume limit (albeit matched by the Crown's upper limits - although I could drop an impedance band on these) and a bad rep amongst guys with more knowledge on live sound than me

    - the Voicesolos - they are great spacesavers but don't seem to put enough volume out for vocal monitoring above a drumkit thats 2 feet away, and they also seem to be too responsive if thats the word - you are either too loud or too quiet and it seems to be very easy to push in either direction just by moving a few cm in front of the mic - i'm wondering if compression across the vocal channels will help this or just cause me feedback issues. these would be the last things to change but I'd appreciate advice.

    - the Crowns. I have a Peavey 2600 which I will get back on warranty repair one day, they've had it for a year, and some Tapco Juices which have been equally unreliable. The Crowns are very reliable but I need something a step up in volume/power/headroom/quality

    ****

    So my rough plan is:

    - upgrade to some kind of light, biamplified PA that can handle, musically, a fully mic'd full band

    - possibly lose the Mackie, one idea is to replace it with some kind of powered desk that would then be able to power monitors in the future. with the RNP I only really need one vocal pre most of the time, but obviously need up to 6 further if I mic the full band. plus i need a lot of aux functionality especially if i am to deal with other bands' requirements on the same night

    And my questions are:

    - what to go for PA & speakers-wise

    - whats a good desk that would give me the functionality and expandability I need and possibly an upgrade in musicality. I know a Midas Venice is £3k and a Mackie £500 but what sits in-between? I'm a bit caught in that if I bought a Midas Venice I would want to hardwire it into my studio for analog summing so I need solid live gear that isn't pushing studio quality, if such a thing exists.

    - what things should i just get rid of? I feel like for example I may not need compressor/gates in a live setting for small halls of 1-300 but I'd appreciate opinions. If I sold everything for example and just replaced the lot, or if I was starting from scratch with a £3.5k budget, what would you suggest?

    Look forward to hearing some opinions.

    Many thanks in advance,

    Jamie
     
  2. Spase

    Spase Active Member

    I'd look at Allen & Heath for the board - the MixWiz are decent, though I prefer the 2400 or Zed models. I would also look for powered speaker instead of a powered board. Powered speakers are getting to be really nice and even on the light side. I really like the QSC I'm using in my house gig - the HPR 153 with a mismatched pair of subs (I didn't buy them); a Yorkville and a harbinger. I am rather surprised how well they work together. I have mackie SRM450s for monitors. None of these are cheap, really, but not over expensive either. I was looking at the EV ZXa100s for monitors, but haven't heard them.
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm going for JBL self powered

    JBL :: Product Family
     
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    What are your thoughts about going with some sort of in-ear distribution system? It's a big change in workflow from what you are doing now, and the initial cost can be high. (There was a thread about this a while ago.) But it has a lot of big advantages in terms of audibility and control. I admit that I thought about this and decided not to go that way, but that was because we weren't doing enough gigs to justify it. I still think it's the best system.
     
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Jeemy -

    What's your feeling about having a digital desk with built-in effects and dynamics rather than an analog desk with external rack units for effects and dynamics?

    Is it 4 independently-settable monitor outputs you need for the band from the mixer in addition to L-R main outs?
     
  6. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    I have no objections to a digital desk per se, just am really not aware of what brands are about, and I do kinda feel that an analog desk and modular units is more repairable and more likely just to fail on one channel or bus rather than entirely.

    And yes I need a minimum of 4 independent monitor outputs, plus 2 for reverb + effects.

    However with a digital desk I do like the idea of being able to change effects via MIDI mid-song, even volume blends perhaps. So if the quality & reliability is there I wouldn't be snobby about it for sure.

    I'll take a good look at JBL, EV, and QSC - the first two I was aware of but not that they would be a step up quality wise. Once I've had a browse I may have more relevant questions but I will save my obvious ones for the manuals!
     
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Jamie you live in the land of Soundcraft. Look no further. (well actually you live next door)

    (secret: Its all about headroom onstage and FOH)
     
  8. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    OK Dave I was aware of the Spirit stuff but its at a price point where I'm saying 'studio money' and a different brand at that. And I was aware of some horrible stuff they do. But I've re-checked them out and found the LX7 series with the GB30 pres which seem to be smack in da middle.

    Is this the right kind of thing? Particularly looking at an LX7II 16ch.

    Also looking at d&b and Logic Systems for the speaker systems. Heard a lot of good things about D&B, did a gig on Sunday which was all D&B equipment but it (maybe engineers fault) seemed to be pretty harsh in the upper mids FOH, although the mid-size active monitors were just deep black holes of potential volume.
     

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