How to Set Up a PA / Sound System

microphone pa system

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.

DO

  • 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!

DONT

  • 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 emergency 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 accessible 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!