Examples of PA Systems

Two-speaker Systems

If a student asks how to get started, this is usually the answer. These can be anywhere from a couple bookshelf speakers on mic stands, to a couple powerful cabinets mounted on walls. When it’s the right solution, there’s nothing to be ashamed of here.

Studio monitors as a P-A system

A couple small speakers on studio monitor stands—just a guy working with what he has.

A larger 2 speaker system

A slightly larger, 2-speaker system. Since putting too much sound into a reverberant space can be detrimental, having only two point sources of audio is sometimes ideal.

A Premium Small Stage Setup

A small stage doesn’t need a lot of audio. You usually can’t go wrong with something like two JBL VRX subwoofers and two VRX tops for each.

Ceiling-mounted cabinets at a concert

Larger cabinets flown from the ceiling.

Two Line Arrays

Most mid to large venues have two line arrays. Due to the tight dispersion patterns if each cabinet, they provide great coverage and focused sound at a high level of efficiency. Older professionals usually have great things to say about how line arrays have substantially changed the whole industry for the better.

A stage with a line array on each side.

Two line arrays can cover quite a bit of audience.

Many Line Arrays

Festivals and large stadiums require more arrays than just two. Desert Trip, for example, has more than a dozen such arrays to cover the millions of audience members. Indoor arenas often have 4-8 arrays that face each section of the circular audience, with a stage in the center.

Many line arrays, engineered to match the venue

This concert has several line arrays on each side, to match the configuration of the audience.

Special Systems

While every permanent install and tour sound system should be engineered for the venue, sometimes the application required something particularly special. For example, a rock church in the Salt Lake Valley needed speakers that were more flat than usual, due to the short ceiling they were dealing with.

Anyone who’s experienced an Atmos surround system knows they’re something special, with up to 128 channels of audio emitting different content.

The Rice-Eccles Stadium has a 286,000-watt system that was designed to direct sound from the outside in, at the request of upset neighbors who want to keep noise pollution down.

Stadium speakers that are long range

Large stadiums use speakers that throw sound ultra long distances.

Swimming pools require speakers that are not only designed for high ceilings but also are weatherized heavily enough to withstand the chlorine in the air. Boats face similar issues, so they have marine-grade speakers just for them.

A high shool football field sound system

High school football field usually have weatherizes speakers in the middle of some of their light poles.

Businesses who need to cover a lot of space with few speakers have omnidirectional domes that have less decay than a regular in-ceiling speaker.

Control systems are often required as well. For example, some restaurants have quiet areas and loud areas and customers who each have their own wants, so special controllers are set up to add on-the-fly flexibility. Stadiums may have special systems that make announcements when the fire alarm sounds, or at closing time every day. The Real Salt Lake team store has a special audio stream that comes directly from the stadium.

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