Q: My band is getting more and more bookings and we have realized that the PA systems in the places we perform are mostly substandard (if not downright pathetic). But we’re arguing over what to buy. Some of us think that a single large, high-powered PA speaker is the answer, while I feel we should have at least a pair of speakers (with one on either side of the stage). Can you give us any help?
A: Man, we’ve come a long way from the “good old days” when a PA system was someone’s extra amp (usually something like a Fender Bandmaster and a couple of mics). This is a huge, complex topic, but there are a few things we can suggest you consider: What would be the largest venue this system would be used in? In a really large space, you’ll almost certainly need more than one speaker for good coverage. However, if a local club that holds just 50-100 people is as big as you expect to ever play, a single large, bi-amped PA speaker might be enough. In most cases, portability will almost certainly be an issue, and some people like the convenience of having an active (powered) system rather than a separate power amp and speakers. Some systems have built-in mixers (and even effects), which can be a real plus. We’d also strongly suggest that all the band members come to an agreement about how the system will be dealt with in the event that you go your separate ways. Consider this now rather than down the road when someone’s feelings will get hurt or you all end up mad at each other. Let’s hope you guys are so successful that it will be a non-issue!