Main Lecture Content (from the MTS Live Sound/Installed Systems Page Menu):

What goes into a basic PA system?

     1 – Microphones

     2 – Other audio input sources

     3 – Mixers

     4 – Speakers and amplifiers

What are some basic system types?


Quiz Questions:

1. What are the basic parts of a public address (PA) system?

2. What makes most dynamic mics more durable than condensers?

3. Why is the most expensive mic not usually the best one to compliment a particular singer/sound source?

4. In relation to speakers, what do each of the following terms mean: diaphragm, driver, subwoofer, tweeter, crossover?

5. Why are variable impedance systems better for office buildings?

6. You have a 240W speaker running on a 120V system. How many amps of current does it draw?

7. Why is it important to have enough documentation for a show, with a high level of accuracy?

8. Why is the apparent volume change from 140 to 141dB more significant than from 120 to 121dB?

Download more questions and essay prompts for free at the TPT store.

Activity: Mixing Practice

The lecture mentions the “Mixing Secrets” library of multi-track audio files, hosted by Cambridge. This is an incredible resource. If used appropriately, students can use a DAW to more or less simulate mixing a live performance. Pick tracks that were recorded in a way that seems more live than in the studio. Tell students they have a limited number of playthroughs to get it sounding as good as possible—having only one would mimic a live performance. Set up the DAW’s mixer with effects that are similar to a channel strip on a mixer or give the students free reign; the simplest setup is to add a channel strip plugin to each channel.

I have plans to record a few groups live with video, so students have visuals to work off as well. Stay tuned! 

Activity: Live Systems Analysis

Below are nine performances that are at least pseudo-live. Play each one for your students and have them comment on them. If assigned as a take-home or online discussion, you could have each student pick one small, one medium and one large system to analyze while the class comments on each others’ observations.

Things to look for:

     What’s the PA system type? The lecture materials have some examples.

     What are the types and quantities of speakers (standalone cabinets, line arrays, floor monitors, in-ear monitors)?

     How many total input channels do you think were used? Remember, keys are stereo (2) and drums can use several.

     What strikes you as particularly interesting or difficult about being the lead sound engineer for the show?


Small Groups:

Mid-Sized Groups:

Large Groups:

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