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Basic instructions on setting up the type of personal address system normally used by solo artists, duo's, bands, musicians for live work.

Please Note:- The advice below is suitable for a basic powerpod or mixer amp, however, systems vary considerably and some are more complicated than others.

When purchasing a P.A. or any other amplification equipment make sure that the seller provides you with all manuals and instructs you in the correct set up or get some help from an experienced person. Don't buy a second hand equipment unless you are knowledgeable about the pitfalls (or have someone with you who is!).

  • Place the speakers on the stands at a height of approx 5' to 6' high and 6' minimum apart.

  • Plug the speaker leads into the connectors provided at the back or side of the speakers and amplifier. Some connectors plug straight in, others require inserting then turning (usually clockwise) to 'lock' them in place. If you are using a mixing desk the outputs are sometimes located at the back of the unit or on the top right hand section above the volume meters.

  • If using a minidisc, cd, audio cassette or other player for your backing tracks or interval music, plug the phono leads into the back of the player and the jack or phono plugs into one of the equivalent sockets (located at the front of the amplifier or top of the mixer).

  • Plug the microphone lead into another socket of your amplifier and connect the other end to the microphone.  Cannon to Cannon leads are preferred for microphones and Jack to Jack leads for Instruments, Effects, Tone Generators and Sequencers.

  • If you have a monitor you will usually find the slave or monitor outputs marked clearly at the front or rear of the amplifier, use a speaker lead to connect the amplifier to the monitors input socket. (Most Slave & Powered Monitors have an input and output socket so you can link the sound out to more than one monitor if required). Powered monitors are also connected to the mains using a normal power lead.

  • Check that all volume levels and power switches are OFF and all leads are connected correctly before switching on the mains power. (At the end of the gig turn off everything including the mains power before disconnecting plugs and leads).

  • Use your Extension power leads and plug the amplifier and player in - switch on & BINGO - you should be up & running.


  • Keep your LEADS neat and tidy - use GAFFA Tape on trailing leads to avoid trips and wires being pulled out of the sockets.

  • LOOSLY wind the Speaker leads around the stands or use tape to keep them neat and prevent accidents.

  • ALWAYS use an extension lead or plug with a safety cut off feature. Extension leads should always be fully extended and checked for breaks or kinks in the wire before use.

  • Clean your leads regularly with a soft (slightly) damp cloth & check for wear & tear.

  • Perform regular maintenance checks on all equipment, cables, leads, plugs and accessories.

  • Carry spare fuses/batteries/strings/plugs/screwdriver/pen/paper & a torch!


  • Have glasses full of liquid on stage or placed on speakers/amps or equipment - Drink from a screwtop or resealable bottle (less likely to tip & ruin your electrical equipment & cause electrocution or severe equipment damage!).

  • Plug anything but Speaker Leads into the Speaker Outputs!

  • Use leads or plugs that are split or broken.

  • Cover the aeration vents on any equipment

  • Block emergancy exits with equipment

  • Have loose trailing leads that people can trip over!
The latter are very important, local Health & Safety departments can stop your performance if these exits are not accessable and if an audience member is injured by tripping over your leads or falling equipment you can be sued for damages, so make sure you are fully insured and be careful!

Also Read
Music Insurance
Repairs and Maintenance
Sound Advice
Acoustic Sound Tips
Electric Sound Tips
Recording Demo's

animusic imageanimusic image Wavelength Calculator

The online wavelength calculator is designed to assist ham radio operators in converting a frequency to its wavelength in feet or inches. Other uses include acoustic measurement and adjustment, microphone placement, room tuning, and speaker positioning.  To read more and use the wavelength calculator Click Here

For the real enthusiasts who are into the technical side of equipment building visit Ishtek Speaker Design, where they have provided a speaker design applet that you can download Free from their site.

The speaker design program which you can access via the site uses Thiele-Small parameters for a speaker, and allows you to calculate various designs. The two primary style of speaker designs handled by the program are horn-loaded cabinets and vented cabinets.

The designs produced may be used to construct high efficiency horn-loaded cabinets for PA and sound-reinforcement use. Horn flares may be conical or exponential. Exponential flares have the best efficiency/distortion tradeoff of all flares. However, conical flares are easy to build. A conical flare is commonly seen as the mid-range cabinet in large PA systems (a Roy box perhaps?). Other flare types (hyperbolic, parabolic) are not implemented.

Related Articles

These are just a small example of the extensive links to online exercises and lessons written by industry professionals that we have available in the Sound Engineering Articles section at the Electric Blues Club, which contains links to the page (when not a framed site) plus answers to pretty much everything a beginner, intermediate, advanced singer or teacher needs to know about sound engineering and recording! (All links below open in a new window).

A - Z Sound Glossary
Excellent sound glossary explaining each term used in sound and recording with cross-referances to related terms. The site contains text descriptions and information about mixing desks, input devices, wireless microphones, processors and how to use them suitable for beginners to intermediate users. This is a USA site so please remember that their electricity supply works at a different ampage from UK. USA readers should also check out his links section which contains manufacturers, dealers, distributors, hire companies and reference sources.

Digital DIY
an online magazine for anyone interested in technology and music with features planned on digital recording equipment, midi instruments, sound effects units, hard disk editing and CD mastering. Musician and Journalist Clive Williamson (Sound on Sound writer) will cover a variety of topics and there will also be interviews with ground-breaking musicians like Brian Eno, Frank Zappa and more. Current articles include 'protecting your hearing, an interview with bob moog, vdu's and computer safety and recordable cd comes of age.

How Amplifiers Work
An explanation and guide for the complete beginner from How Stuff Works.

How Speakers Work
An explanation and guide for the complete beginner from How Stuff Works.

In a PA system, how does feedback work to cause that howling sound?
Info with diagrams for the complete beginner from How Stuff Works.

Integrating Mixing And Signal Processing
Do you fully appreciate your mixer's capabilities when it comes to using effects and signal processors? Craig Anderton reminds you of a few tricks your desk might have up its sleeve

Live MIDI on the Road Part 2: Preparing The System
Having looked last month at how to condense your studio setup for use as a live rig, David Harman concludes this short series with tips on how to prepare yourself and your gear for the rigours of live performance.

Making The Most Of Your Mixer
Paul White reveals a few of the less well-trodden paths hidden within your mixer's routing system

Mic Types & Characteristics
article by Paul White from Sound on Sound providing explainations and descriptions of each type of microphone.

P.A. Advice
Handy information for RaneNote 110 system users on setting up a hum free safe PA system.

P.A. Basics
Overview and tutorials on P.A. systems with tips and tricks for beginners.

P.A. For Music
Useful information resource that aims to promote technical understanding and good practice in the use of PA / sound reinforcement systems.

P.A. System and Related Articles
Shavano Music Online provides some useful articles on pa systems, cables, sound systems and building your own rack cases and boxes.

Pro Audio Reference
A complete glossary of audio terms listed alphabetically and provided online by Rane.

Scott's PA System Tutorial
Explainations in layman's terms on how to hook up and use a variety of different PA system configurations with diagrams and directions on hooking things up from the smallest one-microphone one-speaker system up to a large stereo tri-amped system plus advice on how to operate the system, tips and tricks, glossary of terms and active messageboard.

Sound and Light Training Manual
Article providing step by step basic instructions for setting up a p.a. sound system for beginners. Includes sections on equalisers, effects, mixer, amp, speaker, operation, troubleshooting, performers, sound, light and building requirements plus entry level video for churches and links to related resources.

Using A Hardware Mixer with your Computer
You can achieve a lot with just a computer and a soundcard, but when you want to accommodate external sound sources or record with high-quality microphones then you really need to add a hardware mixer to your setup. Here's how to hook it all together for maximum flexibility - article by Paul White at Sound on Sound Magazine.

small mic imagesmallmic image Helpful Equipment Links

This small selection of links are UK and Online Equipment Retailers who sell, hire and/or install P.A. Systems, Lighting Systems etc. available in the P.A. & Equiment Hire Companies.

A full list of Sound & Musical Equipment Manufacturers, Dealers & Suppliers is AVAILABLE NOW at the Electric Blues Club Equipment section with various accessories and other suppliers available in each instruments pages.

Pipeline Productions
Great Equipment Set Up Info! A comprehensive guide to P.A. Equipment set up with descriptions on specifications and explainations of jargon.   All the info is free & while your there check out their monitors and equipment for sale.

Live Systems Ltd
Specialist supplier of pro audio and stage lighting equipment for coference and music industries also includes tips & tricks including suggested systems for small live bands. theatre & conference rigs, reducing feedback, understanding speaker power, microphone selection and use, tech emergency box, using compressors and a tutorial on the basics of stage lighting.

Musicians Friend US
Musical Instruments Galore, this is the most established musical instrument finder on the web

Shure Guide to Personal Monitors
Article in .pdf format by Gino Sigismondi provides a brief history, reasons to use personal monitors, tips for choosing the right Shure System, system set up, expansion and other related information.

Ishtek Speaker Design
Provides a neat free speaker design applet to aid in thiele-small speaker design, has information and links to other speaker & related sites.