Help for newbe - church PA 100v or Low Imp speakers?
Hi, I'm looking into updating PA system for church. At the moment it is set up just mainly for voice as there has been organ lead worship. We are looking to drag things into the 21st century and develop a worship band aswell. So the PA will have to deliver sound around a relitively small traditional style building. I have set a PA up before with F.O.H. speakers but this setting wouldnt allow that unless possibly they where high up (but could bring Feedback probs!). Looking to develop a group, 2x guitars, keyboard, few singers, pos. small drum set up and Bass (not through PA). there will be sound coming from amps being used for foldback purposes which will add to the mix of sound. But I dont know much about 100v line systems?! will this work with live band based sound? Or do I have to some how work with normal PA speakers? If so, whats the smallest size you can get? If it 100v what type of speaker am I looking for? What are they called? My catologues seem to just have either studio monitors(mainly active), PA speakers and installation speakers? Do they give just as good overall sound as larger speakers? Some good advice needed-no money cant get a company in :(
Here's what we did, and IT WORKS REALLY WELL:
Understand first ... "worship services" are full of people who are musicians, craftsmen, "makers". Therefore, while we COULD have bought a lot of the furniture stuff... we didn't. The results were darn nice. Use your local talent!
 a 19" rack box, on casters, from MDF plywood, primed and painted a deep rust color.
[1a] a side-panel with 8 quarter-inch speaker jacks.
[1b] a side-panel LOCKING power socket. Keep from kicking-out the power by accident.
[1c] internal 12-plug power strip, at back.
[1d] top slant-mount 19" rack ribbon. For a mixer.
[1f] top-grade castors, extra large. Roll over carpet and thresholds well.
[1g] TWO (on each side!) mid-mounted handles. Help get thing over stairs if needed.
[2a] one (1) "Bag End" fullsize speaker, in loft at back of church, mounted to "point down" toward back-of-heads of the church.
[2b] one (1) "Bag End" fullsize speaker, hidden behind altar back-drop. On a speaker stand to be as high as possible (and invisible)
[2c] two (2) Yamaha pole mount speakers, one pointing forward (in front of worship singers, to not feed back) toward congregation. One pointing back (at the worship singers! but away from microphones, again, to not feed back)
[2d] two (2) Behringer small speakers - for "monitors" for musicians. Especially the drummer and bass player.
[3a] A single unbroken 100 foot 10 gauge bright orange Home Depot extension cord (ends removed) was used from back speaker to sound stage. Terminated on one end with SPEAKON and the other quarter-inch-jack. Shorted out, total round-trip resistance was only 0.2 ohms. It was dropped to 0.15 ohms by using the green (ground wire) in parallel to the black wire. Is that cool, or what?
[3b] Another 3 (three) 50 foot, 10 gauge extension cords were cut into shorter lengths for the behind-altar speaker, the monitors and the band front/back facing pole speakers.
[3c] All microphone cables were MADE BY HAND, in a very "churchy" get together at my house one afternoon. 4 guys, 2 gals (food) ... solder, burned fingers, a little beer, and 100% working cables! NOTE - we used 4-wire MOGAMI cable, and top-shelf XLR connectors throughout. The point wasn't to "save money" but to get something we really couldn't afford ... much cheaper. About the same cost as budget cables. But 100x better.
[3d] A SNAKE. This we purchased. 25 feet long, with integral head. 16 channels, with 4 quarter-inch returns. Wasn't very expensive. If we were to do it over again, a 50 foot would be had. There are occasions where the mixing needs to be a bit further from the singers and musicians.
[4a] purchased four (4) Alesis RA-100 (all used) through Craigslist and Ebay. Didn't pay more than $95 for any one of them. Placed them second-to-bottom on the rack of the cabinet, right above the (used) power-distribution switch.
[4b] Having 8 knobs (left + right times 4 units) allowed EACH OF THE 6 to 8 SPEAKERS to be independently adjusted in volume to match its position, its purpose! Do NOT underestimate the beauty of this.
[4c] Purchased (used) a headphone amplifier module for the rack, so that 6+ headphones (of varying type, vintage, listener-preference) could also be independently adjusted. This too was a really helpful buy. $75 at a swap meet.
[5a] Researched like mad ... and settled on the Yamaha 01V digital mixer. It has the sweetest microphone pre-amps, and the entirely digital internal system is noise-free and really responsive. Further, (again "used") on Craigslist, we found one for $499. Picked up and never looked back. It is positively the joy of joys of the system. Also ... it fit perfectly in the slant-top rack space on the custom rack.
[5b] Bought a rack-mount "shortie mixer" ... 8 channels ... especially for the percussion section. They seem to want/need/lust for microphones. Oh well. It isn't digital, but it didn't matter ... combining all the channels to one output and feeding the main mixer was no problem.
PREAMPS and SPECIAL items
[6a] Produced 4 each of the FET Preamp Cable preamplifier cable with FET-in-the-head... used RED wiring, 30 foot each, for use on the phantom power supply of the mixer. THIS WAS TOTALLY AWESOME. There are so many guitar players that don't have "active" pickups. And there are violinists, harp players, and all sorts of instruments that come-and-go in a worship band ... that use passive pickups. So. These were huge.
[6B] And a few "direct boxes" for people more familiar with them. Certain guitar players will have none other, "needing" the volume control knob to be within their reach. ONE NICE THING - the use of "direct boxes" allows guitars to be tapped before they get to their own amplifier ... which means that the mixer-amplifier combination will usually produce sweeter sound for the parishioners.
[6C] INSTRUMENT AMPS - none. Period. They're responsible for their own. We provide the pre's and directs.
[7a] Here's where things get dicey. "Conventional wisdom" will have you purchasing a couple or three gooseneck little-itty-bitty-expensive condenser microphones to "put above and in front" of a line, or rows, or singers. If you have that many, well, maybe it isn't a bad idea. The problem is, they feed-back like Hell. Hell in a Church. Figure that out.
[7b] So... I slowly bought and donated to the church 12 dynamic microphones (all quality, above $100/each), and 4 "instrument" condenser microphones. Some used, some new. All good.
[...] 2 condenser for piano
[...] 1 dynamic Sennheiser for lead singer
[...] 10 dynamics for singers, some doubled up, 2 people per.
[...] 2 lil' button mikes for more singers.
[...] 3 condensers for drum kit
[...] 1 condenser, overhead, for conga guy.
Basically, every sonic source was microphoned, or had a pickup, or other low-distortion, low-feedback input device.
All of this connected to the snakes - the "front snake" for all the instrumetns, and the "back snake" for all the vocalists.
Bought a bunch of economy microphone stands (kind of a mistake, they were crap). And built a "top thing" for the setup that clamped to the top, on side-panels, to the whole contraption ... that internally had the microphones, the cables, the snakes, and all the take-down/set-up stuff needed for the whole service.
With everyone helping (we trained 'em to!) ... setup is about 1 hour. This is starting from an open space having only the piano and a bunch of risers for the vocalists, to all the stuff set up, the drummer's kit set up, and everything. Everyone has a job.
We generally start "right on time", with few hitches. The system is set up to allow for 1/2 to 3/4 hour of just-before-services practice. This is good, 'cuz the kinks can be worked out. At the end, everyone shares "pulling it all apart" and rolling up cables. It goes much faster, maybe in 1/2 hour, tops.
Then the system is packed up, rolled back to the sacristy, into the behind-sacristy work rooms, into the "broom closet" that was commandeered for the purpose, and left for another week. It is set up every week, come rain or shine.
GoatGuy Alameda, CA
Thanks for your reply.. cant belive you set all that up and put away every week! Thats major! Not quite got as big a set up as yourself, by the sound of things -we have a smaller space. You've give me a few things to look into there - I know what a D.I. box is but I've never used a pre-amp? Why put speakers from behind people, are they loud or just for 'fill'? I've heard condensers can be an ear-ache, so to speak - I was thinking of getting a couple for when the schools come in for Christmas with there chior but I wont bother now. I have some SM58 mics for singing - nice. Is your headphone amplifier for 'in ear' monitoring? I'm looking at an analogue mixer- no techy's here, need something simple and quick to pick up. Well thanks again for your reply - lots of 'food for thought'.. Sounds like you've had a lot of fun getting all that together! Nothing more sweeter than completing the job tho.. :D
You can get 100V tapped speakers, but they are now usually ceiling
speakers for offices, the old wall mounting "Tannoys" are long gone.
You can also get 100V tapped transformers for use with normal speakers.
100V systems are for speech clarity in large multiple spaces and really
don't have much to do music, other than playing the radio in factories.
Stuff designed for purpose is usually quite effective and you'll probably
have little joy trying to make it any better for what it does quite well.
I'd just ignore it, as you can't use it well, when setting up a standard
stage PA, especially if bass and drums or more of the backline is
used in standalone (frontline) mode in the main space.
100 Volt systems are intended for when you are putting 4 or more loudspeakers on the same line and wish to reduce cost.
The advantages in terms of sound quality for a constant voltage loudspeaker system are... none.
I would look at small self powered speakers such as JBL Eons on speaker stands and a small mixer to start. It will give you some idea of how to position things in your church. If the changers turn out to be unpopular you can do a most unchurch like thing and resell the gear.
Thank you. Just trying to clarify what you saying, you saying dont look at 100v as its more for speach not music? And try and find a good place for some front of house speakers? If so, can I get two 'small' speakers for each side perhaps to distribute sound more effectively? Thanks.
Active speakers the way to go then? Thanks for advice :)
If you are doing live music, stay away from 100V systems. They are for distributed audio like ceiling speakers and paging horns. For that they work very well. Your needs are different.
100V systems are for lots of speakers distributed around multiple
spaces, e.g. offices, schools and factories, and particularly in the
latter case have power taps on each speaker to adjust volume.
Two 100v speakers in one space is a complete waste of the system.
But if that is what you have, they could be used for a vocal only PA.
Thank you Pano.
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