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Old December 22nd, 2010, 11:56 AM   #1
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Recommendations for PA system?

Can someone recommend a portable PA system for panel discussions/press conferences? My company holds press briefings throughout the country so we need something relatively compact for travel. We don't have an exact budget per se but I'd like to keep it around $1.5k. We've been paying someone else to set up each time (not sure exactly how much) so it's justifiable as long as it's cheaper in the long term and we're expecting 24 briefings coming up. In terms of priorities, my concern are:
1. audio for media documenting the event
2. portability
3. budget
4. audio for audience

Our typical setup needs around 5 mics for people speaking at a table and 1 wireless mic for the moderator/audience Q&A. We'll need a mixer and a press box. I have an Audio Technica 1800 which can be use for the wireless (I know it's less than ideal but it will work for now). Speakers are the biggest problem. The space is usually classroom size with 10-20 people so we don't need a really loud/big speakers. Below is my B&H wishlist and some speakers I'm considering. Input on everything else is welcome too.

Wishlist
Wish List - B&H Photo Video

One of the people we've hired used something like the Califone PA-30 which is nice portable kit with stand but seem overpriced. Alternatively, I can go with the Behringer Eurolive VS1220F floor speakers and forego the stand completely. I also considered the Roland MA-7A studio monitors for the selfish reason that when they're not being used for press conferences, they can be used for editing. I know monitors are for close proximity but it'll probably get more use in editing and is probably good enough for small space. Of course, I'd need stands for these. Lastly the Fender P-150 just seems like a nice simple, complete kit.

I'll probably need a buncha XLR cables, various adapters, gaffer tape, and a big o' rolling case for everything. Am I leaving anything out?

Thanks. Really appreciate any input.

min
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 01:01 PM   #2
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Get a bigger mixer than that behringer (it only has 2 mic inputs) get one that has at least 6 mic ins , then get the Fender passport system and 4 more mics with table top stands, and youre done.
with the split of course.

Dont fool yourself into thinking the monitors will function for PA , you'll blow the tweeters and woofers the first time some one drops one of the mics or gets feedback.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 01:42 PM   #3
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Thanks for the heads up on the monitors. The mixer has more than 2 input. Only 2 XLR, rest are 1/4". Would I run into problems using short 1/4" to XLR cables to the mixer and run longer balanced XLR to XLR cables? The Fender mixer is also 2 XLR as far as I can tell from the picture. If 1/4" works then I would mind going with that if it keeps the size down.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 01:42 PM   #4
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Carvin has great powered PA speakers. Comparible to the sweet Mackie ones, but much less expensive. Carvin.com :: LM12A-2

Get that and a little mixing board and you're good for much less than your budget. You can get 15" speakers rather than these 12" ones if you need more oomph. they are about 475.00 each. Carvin is an American company that only sells it's own products through mail order, which is why it's a bit cheaper. It doesn't pay for advertising on every magazine. They just send out their catalog. They make good guitars and basses to, and they sell mics, amps, and anything you need. For your purposes, I think Crvin withh be the most bang for your buck.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 03:30 PM   #5
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12-inches is enough for voice. Go for 15-inches if you want music with bass. 12-inches is a lot easier to fit in your car, carry into the room, and lift onto a pole.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 03:51 PM   #6
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Thanks for the suggestions unfortunately I'm talking about bringing it on a plane. The other ones in my wishlist are about 5". It'll be mostly voices and a small crowd so mainly we just need them available for people sitting in the back of a large room. I appreciate the suggestions.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 08:37 PM   #7
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If youre going to be flying around then the fender i probably your best bet.

BTW if its not XLR its NOT a real mic input when it come to these little mixers, the other channels besides the XLRs are paired in stereo and have no preamp gain control.. do yourself a huge favor and get something with at least 6 XLR inputs. this way all your microphone are interchangeable and use the same cables.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 10:00 PM   #8
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First, what's the most important result you want.

If just getting reasonably clean voices in the small to medium room, maybe those approaches.

If, on the other hand, your REAL goal it's reaching the widest possible audience, I'd concentrate more on the Press-box. Success with THAT will possibly get your message from 100 in the room to 100,000 via broadcast.

Look at the Rapco MDS-108 - A bit more, but a MUCH better value. It not only has better design and outputs than the little Whirlwind, but in keeping with the times, it has a couple of 3.5mm outputs suitable for feeding personal recorders. That's where the industry is today. Make the reporters happy and you'll get better coverage.

In the sound reinforcement area - take a look at the Anchor Audio stuff. Maybe a Councilman if you can afford it. It's smaller than a Passport - but they understand that they're just doing VOICE and don't care about trying to be a musical PA system for a guitar with bass strings. The Councilman unit may be a bit more than you're considering, but it's designed to get \ press conference mics UP from the table and into a seated speakers face - and has a lot of other smart features for the kind of "multiple important folks at a table doing a press conference" style gig. ONE of those little beasts on a stand can easily cover anything smaller than a major ballroom. Check out their "kits."

And yes, don't forget the cost of good cases for everything.

I'd bet a budget of $3000-3500 would be a lot more realistic to do this properly. But that's a fixed cost - and when you noted a multi-city tour - this expense will likely pale in the face of the travel costs.

Remember that penny-wise, pound foolish thing.

Good luck.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 12:59 AM   #9
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I got one of these mixers:
Behringer XENYX X1222USB - 12-Channel USB Audio Mixer X1222USB
(Notice "12" channel, but really 6 XLR inputs)

Cheap, simple, lots of routing. Berringer is an el-cheapo brand, so if you're going to travel with it a lot then something more reliable like Mackie is the way to go. Mine stays in one place for band practice, so it's good enough for my needs. But If I had to make money with it, I would go Mackie. You can drive a truck over their stuff - literally.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 12:04 PM   #10
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Active speakers - PA system

I recently purchased a PA system and started looking in the $1,500 price range. I quickly realised that this would be insufficient funding; needless to say I ended up paying more, but I'm delighted with the system.
The heart of my system comprises: 2 x QSC K8 active speakers (around $670 each), with a Soundcraft MFXi8 desk (around $500). In adddition I have various foldback/monitors, mics, stands, etc.
There are a number of advantages with the QSC K8s: very portable (27lb / 12.2kg); good quality zipped heavy duty bag for protection (extra cost), very powerful (1000W / 127dB at 1m), small and relatively inconspicuous. It also allows 2 separate XLR/TRS inputs at mic/line level, plus RCA inputs, it also has a 105 degree dispersion angle so it's ideal for small venues and gives excellent coverage. For small rooms one K8 would suffice; for larger rooms, 2 is better..
My use is for both spoken word (lectures, presentations, etc), & live sound - for our two bands, and pre-recorded music (events, weddings, etc). I have been really impressed with the performance of this speaker.
As has been mentioned above, good quality, reliable equipment will serve you well for many years. Most of us will have stories to tell of buying 'cheap' and later regretting it...
Just my thoughts..
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 02:23 PM   #11
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I used on a few occasions two Anchor Audio AN-1000 Two-Way Speakers on stands and a Mackie-1402, which was more than atiquate for a room with 50-75 person audience. We had 6 Sennheiser 835 dynamics for the panel table and podium and two G2 systems (base-station receivers) if someone wanted to walk & talk.
The Anchor AN-1000s are quite small and bulletproof, as are the Sennheiser mics and Mackie board. The entire system fit in a Pelican 1600 case.

I've also used a Passport 150 system which sounded good, but as I recall it only has 3 mic inputs.
I would not recommended the Behringer products if travel and reliability are a factor.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 07:21 PM   #12
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Thank you so much, everyone. I've been reading up on what everyone suggested. I have a lot to consider.

I see Mackie is a favorite in terms of mixer so I looked up their products and I wonder about the ProFX8. It's 4 XLR input which I think is fine. We can share one mic between two speakers and one wireless for moderator/audience.

The anchor audio stuff looks awesome. Those are they kind of small speakers I was thinking of. The Councilman is not that much of a stretch in terms of budget especially if I can substitute one of the channels with my own wireless since they're all XLR. With that system it looks like I can plug the XLR out from the speaker directly to the pressbox and bypass the mixer altogether since it's daisy chained. I'm a little concern about that because I filmed at one event where they had a similar system and none of the local reports plugged into the XLR system because they said the sound just sucks (and when I tried I got no sound at all). Might be an isolated incident though.

Bill, thanks for the Rapco suggestion. Taking care of the media is key. At first I was going to get a bunch of XLR to mini adapters with the whirlwind but if that doesn't work well then I'll push for the Rapco. I just wish they made a smaller one.

I think what I'll do is present a few options in various price range to my superviser. Thanks for everything and happy holidays!
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 08:43 PM   #13
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Yeah that looks like the ticket and then some. YouTube - AES'08: Mackie Pro FX Series
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Old December 24th, 2010, 12:26 AM   #14
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keep in mid that if you use channels on the PA/ Speaker then those channel will not go to the press feed.
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Old December 24th, 2010, 11:48 AM   #15
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Indeed Chad,
The Mackie Pro FX mixer is nice, weather you need the FX or not.
The assignable graphic EQ could come in very handy. For instance, this would allow EQing the house PA speakers while sending a non-EQ'd and separate mix to the press bridge via an Aux. send... or visa-versa.
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