Building the Perfect PA System

PA (public address) systems are a vital part of an AV setup for any organization directly communicating with an audience. PA systems are used in educational and medical facilities, stadiums, performance venues, houses of worship, and much, much more.

This article will explain what makes a PA system perfect and how to build it.

Types of PA Systems

There are several types of PA systems, and there is no universal answer as to which type will best suit you. It all depends on your goals and needs. So, here’s a quick overview of all options:

Portable Vs. Built-In PA Systems

Portable PA Systems

Portable PA systems are designed to be mobile. They are easy to set up and transport, which makes them ideal for outdoor events like weddings or small concerts.

Most of them can run on batteries and are relatively easy to use. However, portable size means that the power output of such PA systems may not be enough for larger events and/or larger spaces.

There are larger systems that can technically be portable but are often heavier and require a good bit of setup time and know-how. May AV companies, like us, offer PA system rentals and can bring them to your event, set them up, and even run the sound for your event if it is a one-off.

Owning a PA system would make sense if you run events regularly in various locations. We would highly recommend getting trained on your new PA system so you are a pro when it comes time to set it up.

Built-in PA systems

Built-in PA systems are used in larger venues and are much more powerful and complex. They are often custom-designed to suit the venue’s specific needs and require careful planning and AV engineers to install.

They may be expensive, but nothing can beat the quality of sound produced by a properly engineered and installed PA system. Check out the system we installed for New Life Church in Frederick.

Wired Vs. Wireless PA Systems

Wireless audio has become a hot trend in the past few years, and full-fledged wireless PA system solutions are currently available on the market. We covered all benefits and downsides of wireless AV equipment in a recent post. All those pros and cons apply to PA systems as well.

A wireless PA system may be ideal if you only plan to use it for voice announcements or background music. It is easier to install and may be a cost-effective solution for smaller setups and events. However, if you need rich, clear, and powerful sound in a large venue, a wired PA system is the only viable choice.

Elements of a PA System

The equipment needed to build a PA system varies depending on its type, the size of the venue, and its intended use. However, some basic elements appear in every PA system. Here is the list:

  • Microphones are needed to pick up the sounds. You should choose the ones that will suit your goals and needs (we will release a thorough guide soon – subscribe to our newsletter so you won’t miss it!). We recommend having a backup mic on hand just in case.
  • Mixer (soundboard) is used to adjust audio levels. It also allows a user to add effects such as reverb and delay. When choosing a mixer, pay attention to its additional features. Some soundboards may require extensive training to operate correctly. Connectivity is another important factor: you should ensure your mixer has enough input channels to cover your needs.
  • Amplifiers increase the audio signal’s volume, allowing it to be projected through speakers. It is vital to pick an amplifier that produces enough power for the speakers you use and to fill the space where it will operate.
  • Speakers project the amplified audio signal to the audience. The type and number of speakers you will need depend on the size of the venue and the intended use. Some speakers have built-in amplifiers (such speakers are called active). Passive speakers need an external amplifier to operate correctly.
  • Cables connect the various components of a wired PA system. Naturally, you will want them long enough to get to each element of your setup. It is also a good idea to have backup cables on hand in case they fail.

What Makes a Perfect PA System

These are the factors that you should keep in mind when planning a PA system:

  • Acoustic power. Your PA system should be able to produce powerful enough sound to reach everyone in the venue.
  • Sound clarity. Distorted sounds can be literally painful for the audience, so you should pay extra attention to the quality of your equipment and pick the proper hardware for the intended use.
  • Sound distribution. You must ensure that the sound is evenly distributed throughout the venue. Placing enough speakers in the right spots and direction requires specific knowledge and experience. An AV engineer will be able to help you with mapping your audio.
  • Each venue has unique acoustic characteristics, and your PA system should be tuned to produce the highest quality sound possible.

What Will Your Perfect PA System Look Like?

PA systems come in all sizes and shapes. Choosing the right one for your specific case is the tricky part. And that’s where our engineers come to help. Call us, and let’s talk!

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