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Help! Need to outfit a small venue sound system on a budget!

Messages
585
Hey TGP friends,
I'd love some feedback on small, portable speakers and subs that are out there right now. I have a buddy who thinks I know everything about sound gear who's pseudo-hired me to outfit his youth-room at his church. Here's the specs:
- portable (think you group stuff - outside in the summers, going to schools to play music, etc...)
- powered
- tight, controlled bass - something that can still deliver the THUMP outside without farting out.
- good track record and warranty.
- $2000-2500 for two mains, two subs. Wiggle room for monitors would be good too. I think I like powered, but can be convinced otherwise.

I've always been a Mackie guy, but I was buy their stuff decades ago. Now, I hear they've slipped off the radar a bit and folks like QSC are dominating. What's the news on that? I'd love specific recommendations, if possible.
 

wpawley

Member
Messages
799
I know others will chime in here but how about looking at the Seismic Audio gear? Low price, active powered Mains and Sub's for around a Grand (give or take). Just a suggestion.
 

danonbass

Member
Messages
2,528
For a small portable FOH youth group kind of system I would recommend Mackie or QSC. QSC powered speakers sound better in my opinion but they are more expensive. You will absolutely need monitors of some kind. If the kids cant hear they will NOT be able to play or sing well. I would strongly consider 3 monitors. Two for the front of the stage and one for the drummer. Even if you have to buy inexpensive monitors you need to buy them. The Behringer speakers that look like Mackie are actually decent and would be fine as monitors.


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danonbass

Member
Messages
2,528
And about Seismic audio...

Yes it's inexpensive and that can be enticing. I will say that in the world of pro audio (and video and lighting for that matter) the cheap stuff really is typically garbage. There are a few notable exceptions but seismic audio is not one of them. You would end up buying the system twice.

Mackie gear isn't sexy but it works and sounds fine. And by that I mean you don't have to fight the gear to get a good sound.


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JamminJoe

Member
Messages
1,024
That budget won't get you the better brand gear. Try getting a pair of Alto TS112a for the mains, a single QSC KW181 sub, and a pair of Alto TS110a monitors. Total should be right around $2500 new. The KW181 is a really good sub. A single quality sub is so much better than a pair of mediocre subs. I got a pair of TS110a as monitors and they're really pretty good for the price. They're not as good as my EV ELX112P mains but they're pretty close at less than half the price. I read the reviews and I think most people like the Altos over the Behringers and the Mackie Thumps.
 

wpawley

Member
Messages
799
I use Seismic Subs, haven't had the first moment of trouble out of them. Everyone keeps saying buy this speaker system or that but so far no one has thought what good are they if he don't have Mic's and a Mixer to put them through. Mackie does have a decent line of mixers that are affordable, so does Peavey. Lots of choices can be made.
 

apoyando

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,060
Without knowing how many inputs you need (and what you actually need to put through the mains )it's a little tough to recommend something. That being said...
How large an audience/physical space do you need to cover?
Are you looking for sound reinforcement (i.e. for vocals and other instruments that need it) or are you truly mixing everything through the PA even with the players' own amps etc)? These questions answers will really change on some level what you need.
How many inputs do you need?
I have 2 QSC K 8s and an Allen and Heath mixing board with built in verb that can handle vocals /guitars/keys for Classic rock/blues : jazz with no coverage issues at all.
Unless you are playing music that requires you to put drums bass through the PA add a powered monitor or two and you're done. You can add a sub or subs now or later if/as needed ..subs like bass are not (as)directional so often one will do. Do you need to buy mics/cabling as well? This adds up. If it's a small youth room you are probably best off with fewer pieces if high quality you can add on to with the next budgeting or rent an auxiliary piece for the occasional big concert.
 
Messages
585
Thanks for the responses. I appreciate the input. Speaking of which: I'll be running your generic Mackie 16 ch board. Not sure which one but I've always had good luck with Mackies boards. It's really just the speakers I don't know about.
 

speakerjones

Member
Messages
2,299
I would use behringers that fell off of the Guitar Center truck before I bought anything from Seismic audio. The suggestion of Altos with the KW181 above was spot on for your budget, and you might even have room left for cables. Horizon makes some bonded AC/XLR cables that make for easier and cleaner set-up.

The newer Mackie stuff is not nearly as reliable as their old stuff, IMO. You might want to look at Soundcraft's offerings for consoles.
 

danonbass

Member
Messages
2,528
The problem with some of the new mackie speaker designs was that they were way too complicated and delicate. They were producing these HUGE powered 3 way speakers that sounded great but you couldn't rely on them. They call them the "HD" series now. They're still making them, supposedly with all the old errors corrected, but I lost faith in that product line so I haven't given them another chance.

However! Mackie still makes their awesome SRM series speakers. They sound great and they're built like a freaking tank. Seriously, I'm using SRM speakers and VLZ2 mixers form 10 years ago and they're still kicking.

2 SRM 450 tops at $600 each and 1 SRM 1801 at $700 would work very well for you, I think. That's $1900 which leaves cash left over for monitors.

I'm a professional audio engineer, and while I really enjoy working with top tier products like d&b, Meyer, Digico, and will specify them when I can, I understand that most people simply need audio gear that works and can get the job done. I've done tech in churches large and small, and have been a worship leader for youth groups and main services. All that to say: I totally understand where you're coming from, man.


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Messages
585
The problem with some of the new mackie speaker designs was that they were way too complicated and delicate. They were producing these HUGE powered 3 way speakers that sounded great but you couldn't rely on them. They call them the "HD" series now. They're still making them, supposedly with all the old errors corrected, but I lost faith in that product line so I haven't given them another chance.

However! Mackie still makes their awesome SRM series speakers. They sound great and they're built like a freaking tank. Seriously, I'm using SRM speakers and VLZ2 mixers form 10 years ago and they're still kicking.

2 SRM 450 tops at $600 each and 1 SRM 1801 at $700 would work very well for you, I think. That's $1900 which leaves cash left over for monitors.

I'm a professional audio engineer, and while I really enjoy working with top tier products like d&b, Meyer, Digico, and will specify them when I can, I understand that most people simply need audio gear that works and can get the job done. I've done tech in churches large and small, and have been a worship leader for youth groups and main services. All that to say: I totally understand where you're coming from, man.


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Thanks, bro. Good to hear your perspective. It's tough to not push for more money to be spent under the umbrella of quality. However, ministry budgets are tight. Thanks for the Mackie info.
 

phusana

Member
Messages
950
used market!

I'm in a similar situation to the OP. I need to find a PA for a community non-profit arts center with a very limited budget.

Main use is for solo singers, open mic nights, small quieter combos folk/jazz/classical etc. also for speaker series, recorded music at events etc.

My budget is whatever we can get away with for a decent sounding system, so used market is where I'll start.

Any tips on what to avoid and what to look for would be appreciated! Thanks!
 

Simon

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,304
B52! The system with one big sub and 2 powered mains.
I've heard many guys piss and moan after spending $5000 on a system and then hearing the B52 system.
My partner and I have used just that for around 6yrs, so at least 1000 road gigs, tuff, practical, and sounds great!

Also if you put the mains even with, or a touch behind the band (Off to the sides) with the sub in the middle you can get by without monitors (We don't own any)

Plus the Church will have a grand+ left over.
 

mattball826

Senior Member
Messages
20,798
buy the used passive rigs. many of them entire pa systems on craiglist here at least. most are jumping on digital bandwagon and unloading rack amps, passive mixers.

take advantage of it. a local guy here had 2 yam club s115 speakers, two 15" subs, pr of yamaha wedges, mackie 12ch board, two crown power amps cables and stands for $800

funny part of teh ad was i have used these for gigs 50x a year for the last 11 years with no problems ever. he wont be saying that about digital mixers and powered speakers. trust me on that one.
 

Simon

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,304
Here's a link to the B52 Matrix 2000.
Sub flips up on its wheels and the spkrs stack on top, and you wheel away.
I know many would consider these inadequate without even trying one.
Like I said before, I've used one in small to medium venues, and outside for yrs with no problems.
http://www.b-52pro.com/products/Matrix2000.html
 

lord preset

Member
Messages
881
A pair of RCF 312a mains and a QSC 18" sub can be had new on eBay for pretty much $2.5k. RCF is an Italian company that made the original Mackie SRM450 - the ones that were actually good,and IMO the 312a's are a cut above the current Mackies.. If you need more wiggle room in the budget for monitors I would look at the Altos for the mains - I haven't tried them but I've heard good things about them.
 




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