Before we dive into the nitty gritty of PA systems, let’s take a look at some of the basic kinds of systems out there. Believe it or not, the vast majority of this guide applies to all of these, albeit to different degrees.
Any simple PA that’s built for one or possibly two performers counts as a personal PA. PA stands for public address, i.e projecting sound to a large group of people louder than you could by talking or playing an acoustic instrument. These can be as simple as a single powered speaker with a modest onboard mixer and maybe an effect or two, or they can be as sophisticated as mini line-array systems with advanced processing, and more. Personal PAs are great for solo performers and small event settings.
Powered speakers, also known as self-powered speakers or active speakers, offer a superior sound quality over normal speakers. Because they have a built-in amplifier, you do not need an external amplification system.
The Gemini GSP-L2200PK pumps an incredible 2,200 watts of power through its massive 15" high excursion woofer and 3.5" horn tweeter.GSP-L2200PK packs Bluetooth streaming and stereo pairing, so you can even create a wireless stereo pair with another GSP-L2200PK speaker.
Another great Powered speaker is the Mackie Thump12BST Boosted: a 1300 watt loudspeaker with wireless control and streaming! The redesigned amplifier with Dynamic Bass Response provides a chest-thumping low end for a variety of applications.
Passive speakers are powered by an external amplifier and therefore don't need to be plugged into an outlet. This allows you to create a speaker system with fewer wires overall.
The passive Mackie C300z speaker's EQ and crossover points are meticulously chosen so that beam-width patterns match in both drivers, delivering natural sound at all volume levels.
If you prefer a heavier bass, you want a subwoofer. The Mackie DRM218S-P is 2000 watts & housed in a texture-coated 15mm plywood cabinet with internal bracing to provide optimal acoustic performance, while the front-ported direct-radiating design provides maximum punch and a deep low-frequency response.
A line array speaker system is typically a string of passive or active (powered) speakers placed on either side of a stage & designed to deliver quality, clear, and loud enough sound to an audience.
The Gemini LRX-448 includes 4 satellite array speakers per side with included stands, allowing for huge dispersion inside or outdoors. The low end is covered with the included 12” subwoofer enclosed in a rugged durable housing.
The Gemini LRX-1204 makes pattern control in the voice frequency range easier to manage by including two 4 X 4 satellite speakers on stands (included) that allow for multiple adjustable dispersion angles. The low end is covered with the included 12” subwoofer enclosed in a rugged durable housing.
All-in-one or portable speakers are best for those who don’t want to delve into the finer details of PA systems. These contain a built-in EQ (cutting out the external mixer and/or power amp) that boosts the voltage of the signal. These rigs are a lot like personal PAs in their simplicity, only they tend to be higher in power than personal PAs and can cover a larger room or area. They also offer the ability to expand to larger setups! They’re great for small mobile rigs and households that want a little more oomph.
The benefit of having a portable speaker is that everything is contained in one unit. As the name suggests, it’s relatively small, or easy to break down so you can take it from one place to another.
The Gemini WRX-843 is packed to deliver rich sound for professionals needing a transportable PA system. This speaker system makes its presence felt with its towering 78” height, 3,000 watts of room-filling peak power, and 600 watts of continuous Class D digital amplifier. The WRX-843 weighs only 24 lbs.
The Mackie FreePlay LIVE is a personal, portable PA with Bluetooth featuring powerful, immersive sound tuned by professional engineers, which result in a compact, yet powerful speaker system with clarity and high headroom.
The advantage of a bundle is that it is easier to put together, more portable, and cost-effective for anyone who wants a condensed PA system rather than several individual pieces.
The Gemini ES-15TOGO is a powerful loudspeaker that comes with a whole package of cutting-edge features that allow you to enjoy your favorite music the way you want it no matter where you are. This speaker also comes with 2 wireless microphones!
The Gemini AS-15BLU-LT-PK improves your live setup in many aspects giving your performance a powerful sound and a brilliant LED light show eliminating the need for extra external lighting fixtures for small-to-medium-sized events. The unit is lightweight for easy transportation and setup. Each speaker includes 1 speaker stand as well as 1 wired microphone!
No easy access to a wall outlet or generator? With rechargeable batteries, Bluetooth connection, and powerful speakers, these products are party perfect!
With its 6-hour rechargeable battery, the Gemini WRX-900TOGO is ready to hit the road! Dial in your sound with a fierce 2,400 watts of Class D Digital Power, delivering a well-defined and stunning performance every time. This speaker also has a 3-channel mixer and built-in reverb.
The VocoPro SoundGlow-1500 powered speaker package is one of a kind! The powered speaker has built-in RGB and LED lights that dance to the music. Enjoy Bluetooth, FM radio, SD card, and line inputs with this easy-to-use all-in-one lightweight, rechargeable powered speaker.
These are the whole enchilada. Mixers, speakers, monitors — the works! These are best for larger venues where you require a higher-definition sound. The rest of this guide assumes you’re looking at building a standard PA system just like the ones you see anywhere from small clubs to large arenas.
It all starts with your voice going through a microphone. A microphone can make your voice sound better because certain aspects of your recorded voice, such as the prominence of specific frequencies, tone, color, and overall clarity can be improved by choosing the right microphone.
A wired mic is making a direct connection, so it should be (and almost always is) more reliable than wireless. The Mackie EM-89D handheld dynamic vocal mic aims to bring you professional-level audio reproduction at a wallet-friendly price. This road-ready mic is built to last, thanks to the durable exterior and metal grille. The internal electronics are specially tuned to provide a very flat frequency response. This makes it a mic of all trades for live vocals, instruments in the studio, and many more applications.
If you need to be walking around a lot, a wireless mic will be more beneficial and worth the higher price tag. Even if you have a mic with a long cord, it will likely get in the way as you move around, or you may find yourself tripping over the cord. The VocoPro UHF-3200-10 is a great dual-handheld wireless system that operates on the less-crowded UHF frequency band offering you clearer and interference-free reception. This system can be used in outdoor or indoor environments to capture audio for presentation, vocal, speech, and sound reinforcement applications.
Electronic signals from microphones and instruments need to be balanced, processed, and mixed together before they can be amplified and routed to PA speakers and monitors. In your live music PA, this is where the mixer comes in. Mixers are items of equipment that arrange multiple input audio signals in a suitable balance, and they adjust tone quality so that the output audio is easy for the audience to listen to. A powered mixer is one that contains built-in amplifiers. An unpowered mixer must use an additional component: amplifiers. An amplifier, or amp, is a device that modulates the amplitude of a sound signal. In other words, it grants power to your passive speakers.
A great mixer is the Mackie ProFX12v3. It's a 12-channel mixing console featuring seven Onyx microphone preamps with 60 dB of headroom and a built-in effects engine with 24 built-in FX, making it well suited for live sound, home recording, and content creators. The integrated 2x4 USB audio interface offers high-quality 24-bit / 192 kHz recording and playback with zero-latency monitoring.
Need to power your passives? The 1,600 Watt Mackie PPM1008 is a powerhouse amplified mixer that will deliver maximum volume, distortion-free for your passive speakers. It's fast and easy to wire in and dial up a sweet mix with the PPM1008 extensive set of professional mixing tools. Features include premium Mackie mic preamps, 2 built-in DI boxes, musical 3-band Active EQs, in-line compressors, and 9-band graphic EQs for mains and monitors. The 32-bit RMFX+ processor with 24 sane, usable effects includes 3 sizes of warm or bright room and plate reverbs, rich chorus effects, and a user-accessible tap delay.
Essentially, A DJ Controller is a device that is both a turntable and a mixer, which also connects to DJ software, allowing for mixing music without requiring any other hardware besides the computer. A DJ Mixer is only a mixer, which requires turntables or CDJs to plug into each channel so you can mix music.
The Gemini G4V transforms the standard DJ MIDI device into a dynamic and formidable software performance controller. Within its fully metal enclosure are 2 full-featured physical DJ decks that allow complete control of 4 virtual software decks. The 16 multi-function performance pads and numerous assignable rotary encoders give you the power to toggle, tap, and twist your tracks into an exhilarating and unique performance.
The Gemini MDJ-500 performance pack gets you into the DJ game instantly providing a pair of MDJ-500 professional compact USB media Players, a 2-channel mixer, and a set of DJ headphones with a wired microphone. This package allows for creating and blending custom sounds easily, with 3-band rotary EQ on each channel and individual gain control. Versatile connectivity options include phono and line stereo channels, which provide up to 5 audio source connections, as well as a 1/4” microphone input with dedicated volume control, and balanced and unbalanced master outputs.
You just read through a lot of information, and the choices can still be pretty intimidating. Here are just a couple of packages we put together so you can buy most of what you need all at once to get started!
The Mackie SRM-Flex Portable Column PA System Stage Package features a compact, lightweight form factor, signature SRM Series sound quality, and intuitive Mackie mixer design for maximum flexibility. With 1300watts per tower, you're guaranteed to run perfect solo acts, bands, corporate events, schools, and more. This package also includes 2 handheld dynamic vocal microphones, 2 height-adjustable boom stands, and XLR cables, as well as other cables you need so you can connect the mics to the PA system.
The Mackie DRM Powered Loudspeaker Audio System delivers class-leading power via ultra-efficient Class-D amplifiers with next-gen protection and Power Factor Correction technology for peak performance when you need it. The Mix8 8-channel compact mixer is reliably rugged, with the proven quality you expect from Mackie, the world leader in compact mixer design. This package also includes a handheld dynamic vocal microphone, a height-adjustable boom stand, and a 25-foot XLR cable so you can connect the mic to a mixing board!
DJ Lights. These are lights that are turned on during the dancing. When it comes to DJ Lighting, there is a wide variety of DJ lighting available on the market. These include Lightbars, Lasers, and stage lights.
Having two lights is like having a stereo light show on both sides of the stage at an EDM festival. With the VocoPro Dynamic Duo, each light automatically mixes between water wave, moonflower, strobe, and UV effects, and projects a large laser beam with mesmerizing graphics across the room, all to the beat of the music. You can also connect these lights with a DMX cable!
Made from high-quality materials and using 50,000 hours rated LEDs the ADJ Dotz TPar System is built to last and operate flicker-free. This set of lights features an incredible LED color wash display. This produces powerful, smooth RGB color mixing with rich palettes of color (fast or slow color change operation). Great for Stage Lighting, Bands, Night Clubs & Mobile Entertainers Emits less heat on performers on stage as opposed to conventional stage lighting!