Advice on PA setup for amateur band?


Hello! I’m a long time hack - pretty good chops on guitars / keys, lots of knowledge on rock songs & structures - but always just played instruments myself at home, never did the band thing.

My boys are in that early teen just starting out phase, and we would like to form an actual band to play parties, dances, local town outdoor festivals etc. The venues would then be things like home basement for practice, gyms, and outdoor open spaces. Instruments would include drums, bass, two singers, and either two guitars or one guitar and one keyboard.

Guitar amps include Marshall 50W half-stack, Fender Twin Reverb, and Ampeg SVT half stack (bass 4x12). So my idea is to play the guitars at chosen volume, un-mic’d, and then have suitable amplification on other stuff to ‘match’ that. Drums are Roland digital BTW.

This question actually isn’t necessarily pure PA, given I’m thinking about amplifying things separately (example: running vocals through one amplified system, drums through another). I have a couple of mixers (20 channel, 12 channel) as needed so let’s take any combining and mixing out of the equation.

I have picked up over time a QSC K12 and EV ZLX-12p, so have those to work with. Powered speakers certainly offer modular flexibility, but I’m not opposed to going rack power amp and passive PA speakers. I do not want a subwoofer because it will be hard to store and utilize at home, and I’m satisfied good quality high power 12” or 15” can work for the kick drum (remember, Bass guitar would be just through its own amp in this scenario). For music type, think 60s-80s style rock.

Really one QSC K12 for drums seems to keep up with the guitar/bass in this scenario (that’s all the farther we’ve gotten in practice) so - while I could spread that to more/different speakers, 15” or whatever, I’m not too worried about amplifying the drums.

So that leads to the challenge: vocals primarily, plus keyboards and 12 string Guild Acoustic (K&K Pure Mini transducer pickup). I bought a TC Helicon Voicelive 2 to experiment with harmonization, and will use that for front-end dynamics processing on the lead vocal (and add something suitable for the backup singer too). We definitely need some improved feedback treatment in the basement (Sabine type system?), but I can tell you that as we experiment with adding vocals to the other instruments, it looks like both the 1000W portable speakers will be needed minimum to keep up with all those big guitar amps and matching drums.

So the question is, type, configuration, and ‘amount’ (number/size of speakers plus amp power) for vocals plus acoustic guitar or keyboards in this type of band setup. All the above implies I’m not too hurting for $$$, but not a rich man - budget in the $2k-$3k range.

I was thinking about trying an EV ETX-35p maybe for another flexible piece, but that is just one potential variable. One other note, while the above descriptions are all quality stuff, I am not opposed to Behringer products for amp / speaker.

Please suggest, if you’re still with me, configurations for vocals with PLENTY of headroom for optimum blend and clarity. And, mixed on the same system or in parallel on separate powered system, (one at a time of) keyboard or 12 string acoustic.

And feel free to tell me whatever else you want if you think all this sounds stupid.



Silver Supporting Member
I don't know what your budget is, but the QSC K-series are great. I would recommend toward subs, just to have more flexibility with your high end.
It is touch for one speaker, or a basic 2-way cabinet to deliver the clarity you want from vocals, or the right hand of a keyboard player while it is busy traveling its maximum throw for the low end of a kick and bass.

There are so many bands and churches upgrading to digital mixers and newer powered speakers, that you should be able to find a ready to roll PA setup on Craigslist in your budget.

I would imagine some Peavey or Yamaha speakers. 4 12" 2-way cabs (2 would be monitors) and 2 18" subs with 3 QSC 1850 or Crown CE2000 amps plus 3-4 channels of 31-band EQ (dbx preferred) and a simple crossover (If the mixer doesn't have a sub out) is what I think is enough to do any gig as a self contained rig. Any gig that needs more power should be paying enough to hire out sound support.
A benefit of choosing subs is that you can use smaller tops, and you don't need to have speaker tripods, which are extra gear and a tripping hazard. And it creates a modularity. Using the same speakers as tops and monitors and a redundant sub setup means built in backups. If one sub breaks down, just use the other and push a little more power through it. If one of the 4 2-ways go down, just use a monitor in its place.


The E drums are what's going to bugger this deal and cause you to need to spend way more money.

Realistically, to get the drums over the level of Marshalls and Twins and SVTs, you're going to need what most bands use for their whole PA, just for the drum monitor. A powered sub and two of the K-12s or EVs, set up by the drums would probably be the least you'd want.

If you can then balance that rig w/the stage amps, you'd be able to get away with a pair of full-range speakers and some monitors for the actual band PA. I'd just run a touch of everything thru the fronts, to fill in the sound. Just vox in the monitors.

MLG Audio

Check out the qsc ksub. It's hardly bigger than a top cab and it sounds great. You won't get thundering lows, but it's got a great punch to it. One of those with two k12s is a killer setup for small bands. Grab a cheaper powered speaker for a vocal monitor. Maybe a couple alto ts112a's and you're good to go

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