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zippy
2009-05-20, 10:54
Does anyone have any experience and specific recommendations for a portable PA system to be used for public meetings/lectures? Good sound quality and good, included microphone at a reasonable price are the only guidelines I have.

Here's an example of what we are looking for (I have no idea if this particular unit is any good):
http://www.diguniverse.com/PROFESSIONAL-AV/PUBLIC-ADDRESS-SYSTEMS/IPA03.html

This one has a built in rechargeable battery which would be a plus. iPod docking is not necessary.

Yontsey
2009-05-20, 11:59
What's your price range?

zippy
2009-05-20, 12:23
I don't really know at this point. I can't imagine they will go for anything over $1,000 so we're not talking really high end, I realize. But at the same time, if something in the $300 (using the example item above) is really not going to meet the needs, then I'd rather try to find something that will and try to make a case for it.

The primary venues for this will be things like school auditoriums/cafeterias as well as outside - where wind can compete for noise level.

Yontsey
2009-05-20, 12:37
Here's a couple of ideas for ya:
one (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Kustom-Kustom-KPM8420-PA-Package-482657-i1397118.gc)
two (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Fender-Passport-Deluxe-PD-150-Portable-PA-480664-i1145381.gc)

I really think the first one would be your best bet because you get speaker stands with it that gets it off the ground and really helps the sound to carry. You also get the cables and mics with it too. Decent cables and mics. Should be perfect for what you need them for.

Dave
2009-05-20, 12:46
Here's an example of what we are looking for (I have no idea if this particular unit is any good):
http://www.diguniverse.com/PROFESSIONAL-AV/PUBLIC-ADDRESS-SYSTEMS/IPA03.html

I would guess that particular unit is crap, for two reasons taken straight from their blurb: "High powered mountable 2-way speaker system" and "HiFi sound carries over 150 feet with enhanced bass output". Usually in these portable PAs "High Powered" is marketing-speak for "not enough power", and "HiFi sound" is code for "shitty-ass sound". Sad but true. :\ Also, unless you're talking out of a corner or at the end of a hallway, one speaker won't give you good coverage.

If you're more concerned with intelligibility than "good sound quality" then it might be fine, but I'd hesitate before buying one without hearing it first.

As a piece of general PA gear advice, stay away from Behringer. Some people have good luck with their stuff, but I don't know anyone in that particular club. They tend to make unreliable and/or poor sounding equipment. If it was me, I'd probably go with Yamaha or Mackie for good low-end gear.

Oh, and whatever the sales person tries to tell you, if whatever music you play through this isn't the point of you being there, you don't need subs. Not if you're trying to keep it under a grand, anyway.

Bryson
2009-05-20, 13:41
(Note: I do this sort of thing for a living...)

Looks at link. *Barf*

Price is right. I'd seriously doubt anything else is.

We use Mipro (http://www.mipro.com.tw/) type systems for this kind of use for unskilled operators, but the right answer is a separate system with two powered speakers, small mixer and cables - but obviously this involves a level of technical skill and setup time that your operators may not have.

I'd recommend the Mipro stuff for your application, but it's not cheap.

For smaller rooms we have a Mackie SRM150 (http://www.mackie.com/products/srm150/) which I love. It's so small, sounds good*, and it's cute into the bargain. We're a bit of a Mackie house - we use SRM450s as our portable speaker sets, Mackie mixers as our small mixers and I want a pair of 350s for medium-size applications. Maybe the 150 is all you need?

*=Given the size of the thing, it sound amazing. It's all about context.

EDIT: Yeah, no subs unless you're a DJ or a live band... They're freaking heavy, anyway!

zippy
2009-05-20, 13:49
Here's a couple of ideas for ya:
one (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Kustom-Kustom-KPM8420-PA-Package-482657-i1397118.gc)
two (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Fender-Passport-Deluxe-PD-150-Portable-PA-480664-i1145381.gc)

I really think the first one would be your best bet because you get speaker stands with it that gets it off the ground and really helps the sound to carry. You also get the cables and mics with it too. Decent cables and mics. Should be perfect for what you need them for.

I think we'd shy away from the 1st one due to size and complexity. It's my fault for not listing ease of setup/use and portability into our list of requirements. This will likely be used by individuals who are 'flying solo' and have very low technical skills.

The second link you posted would probably be a better fit. It looks simple enough, but with the benefit of a two speaker setup.

Bryson
2009-05-20, 13:56
Here's a couple of ideas for ya:
one (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Kustom-Kustom-KPM8420-PA-Package-482657-i1397118.gc)
two (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Fender-Passport-Deluxe-PD-150-Portable-PA-480664-i1145381.gc)



The first one: Who the hell are Kustom? I'd avoid that like the plague. The AT mics are Ok, but SM58s are only $100 (less if you shop around) and are the absolute gold standard. They'll take the beating of a lifetime and still sound better than most other mics. For general purpose voice work, any other choice needs to be carefully justified. It's well worth the extra $20 for the far superior feedback rejection and build quality, for a start.

The Fender Passports are OK. They sound a bit plasticy, but they're perfectly fine. At least you have two speakers and a reasonable brand name. I'd still buy a SM58 to go with it, though.

Yontsey
2009-05-20, 14:21
The first one: Who the hell are Kustom? I'd avoid that like the plague. The AT mics are Ok, but SM58s are only $100 (less if you shop around) and are the absolute gold standard. They'll take the beating of a lifetime and still sound better than most other mics. For general purpose voice work, any other choice needs to be carefully justified. It's well worth the extra $20 for the far superior feedback rejection and build quality, for a start.

The Fender Passports are OK. They sound a bit plasticy, but they're perfectly fine. At least you have two speakers and a reasonable brand name. I'd still buy a SM58 to go with it, though.

I agree. I love the SM58 but if he's just doing general speaking, it may be a bit overkill.

Kustom is decent band for what he's going to be doing. I agree with what everyone else is saying, but keep in mind, he's not going to be having concerts or festivals, he's going to be doing speaking engagements. I'm not a huge fan of the Passports either but they're easy to transport and all-in-one.

pscates2.0
2009-05-20, 14:29
Who the hell are Kustom?

I don't know. Some a-hole named John Fogerty* only made an entire career playing through them...

http://thestevieboy.tripod.com/fog.jpg

Tuck and roll, baby!



* And if you ask me who John Fogerty is, I can't know you anymore.

:p

Being serious now, a buddy of mind has a little collapsable/tightly-packaged Yamaha personal PA. I don't know the model number/name, but it's quite luggable and he seems happy with it. Two speakers, a built-in mixer (with some basic EQ and effects).

zippy
2009-05-20, 14:43
(Note: I do this sort of thing for a living...)

Looks at link. *Barf*

Price is right. I'd seriously doubt anything else is.

We use Mipro (http://www.mipro.com.tw/) type systems for this kind of use for unskilled operators, but the right answer is a separate system with two powered speakers, small mixer and cables - but obviously this involves a level of technical skill and setup time that your operators may not have.

I'd recommend the Mipro stuff for your application, but it's not cheap.

For smaller rooms we have a Mackie SRM150 (http://www.mackie.com/products/srm150/) which I love. It's so small, sounds good*, and it's cute into the bargain. We're a bit of a Mackie house - we use SRM450s as our portable speaker sets, Mackie mixers as our small mixers and I want a pair of 350s for medium-size applications. Maybe the 150 is all you need?

*=Given the size of the thing, it sound amazing. It's all about context.

EDIT: Yeah, no subs unless you're a DJ or a live band... They're freaking heavy, anyway!

Both of these options look like they could fit the bill.

If that Mackie 150 can deliver as good as they say, then it might be the ticket. That thing is tiiiiny. We could always look at picking up an extra loudspeaker for the occasional larger audience. Then again, it doesn't look like it has a built in, rechargeable battery - or am I missing something?

How would you guys rate these as opposed to the Fender Passport? Incidentally, it looks like the Passport may not have a battery either. The more I think of that, the more important it seems to be. I'll have to talk to the intended users to get their input on that score.

/*edit*/according to the site linked from Yontsey, the Passport does have a battery capability - not sure if it's a built in, or just uses off the shelf batteries... but I don't see anything about battery on the Fender web site.

And yes, this is for 'speaking only' engagements.

zippy
2009-05-20, 14:45
* And if you ask me who John Fogerty is, I can't know you anymore.

:p

Being serious now, a buddy of mind has a little collapsable/tightly-packaged Yamaha personal PA. I don't know the model number/name, but it's quite luggable and he seems happy with it. Two speakers, a built-in mixer (with some basic EQ and effects).

Fogerty is awesome, so his vote counts.

I'll have to try and find some Yamaha units to look at. I've had nothing but good experiences with Yamaha products in the past.

Dave
2009-05-20, 15:30
I don't know. Some a-hole named John Fogerty* only made an entire career playing through them...
Yeah, but that's kinda like saying Nintendo makes cool gaming consoles so their servers must be cool, too. Good guitar amps ≠ good PAs.

Having said that, I have no idea if their PA stuff is good or not. Although nothing that you can get for under a grand is going to be spectacular...

pscates2.0
2009-05-20, 17:24
Yeah, but that's kinda like saying Nintendo makes cool gaming consoles so their servers must be cool, too. Good guitar amps ≠ good PAs.

True. Good point.

Bryson
2009-05-20, 18:14
Aye...not sure I'd buy a Marshall PA system. Or an Ampeg one. ;)

To be clear: I'm not a musician, but I do buy PA systems as part of my job. Regularly.

The SRM150 hasn't got a battery. I'd never trust a show to a battery, though....

Yamaha make great reverb units, decent keyboard amps and pretty good pianos, but they make really terrible mixers and EQs. Enough for most riders to say "no fucking Yamaha (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1004061iggypop8.html)" on them. I've not listened to any, but I'd steer clear for PA stuff.

Dave
2009-05-20, 18:28
Yamaha make great reverb units, decent keyboard amps and pretty good pianos, but they make really terrible mixers and EQs. Enough for most riders to say "no fucking Yamaha (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1004061iggypop8.html)" on them. I've not listened to any, but I'd steer clear for PA stuff.

Their low-end analog consoles and speakers* have reasonable bang-for-buck, but since there's not much buck involved, there's not much bang either.

*I've never used their PA speakers, but their monitor speakers are "good enough" for what Zippy's doing.

bassplayinMacFiend
2009-05-21, 14:06
Two years ago I'd bag on you for bagging on Ampeg (probably would be a perfect PA for Peter Steele :D ). Unfortunately, LOUD has reduced them to a nametag on sub-par equipment. :(

You could check www.pignoseamps.com for portable battery powered amps, but I'm not seeing any battery powered PA in the 100W+ range.

zippy
2009-05-21, 15:36
After looking at some of these a bit more and trying to understand the differences as well as get more info on what exactly the needs are...

I think one of the Mipro systems that Bryson linked are the best thing for us. We have decided that battery capability is a must if we're going to go ahead and get something - we may as well be able to use it for all of our needs, not just the indoor, or near an outlet times.

The really small, MA-101a (http://www.mipro.com.tw/link/2_2_ma101a.htm) system is enticing due to it's minimal size, and ease of use. I worry that it is a bit under powered for our outdoor needs though. One area that it will be used fairly often is an area near railroad tracks that get's a fair amount of wind, addressing groups of up to 50 or so. However, it says you can broadcast to multiple MA-101s with a single mic, so we could look at getting a second unit for a dual speaker config in those cases.

On the other hand, one of the larger units like the MA-705 (http://www.mipro.com.tw/link/2_2_ma705.htm) or the MA-707 (http://www.mipro.com.tw/link/2_2_ma707.htm) would most likely be enough power with just the single unit. They also have the option of adding a CD player, which might be a useful feature, though I'll have to check with the users to see if they would have any need.

These things just look a bit more rugged and easy than something like the Fender unit. And the Mackies do not have battery power. That's a real bummer too because there is a place in town that has one of the SRM150s available for rent that we could test.

addabox
2009-05-21, 15:52
You should probably take a look at Anchor's (http://www.anchoraudiostore.com/category2.html) offerings. I've done a lot of school/meeting sorts of gigs, and Anchor is pretty much the standard for this kind of thing. They're not unlike the Mipro you're looking at, but in my experience more reliable and a bit heavier duty.

Average unit has two mic inputs, line in, battery, and a daisy chain option for additional speakers. They can take a wireless receiver option, so if you go with that you can have everything you need in a single bag that the unskilled don't have to much trouble setting up.

Certainly wouldn't use it for a live music gig, but for a mic or two and maybe a little background music you can't really do any better.


EDIT: looking at your budget, the "Liberty" might just squeeze in. This stuff is a little more than some similar things on the market, but it's really, really worth it. Aside from occasionally having to replace the battery (after maybe five years), they're bullet proof.

Bryson
2009-05-21, 18:02
Anchor are ok too. I think the Mipros sound better, but the heavy duty point stands.

We have a 705 and a 707. I'd recommend either. I was going to buy a 101 but in the end opted for the Mackie unit mentioned earlier.

addabox
2009-05-21, 18:38
Anchor are ok too. I think the Mipros sound better, but the heavy duty point stands.

Sure, but the way these things get slung around I really value rugged, plus if the main use is spoken word "sounding better" don't hardly enter into it.

zippy
2009-05-21, 22:49
I took a look at the Anchors but they seemed to be consistently higher in price than the Mipros. There may be a good reason for that, but unfortunately it starts to push it out of our price range. Durability is important, but it looks like the Mipros are sufficient in that category as well. I'll have to try to quote one out completely, and maybe check for other sources, so I won't rule them out yet.