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Shopping for a PA


Eric Jx

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My band has asked me to research and come back to them with a recommendation for a PA.

 

Here are the parameters:

 

* Budget : $1000

* A few band members are against purchasing used gear, so we have to buy new

 

* We play 80's rock in small bars/pubs. It would have to be loud enough to get the vocal over the rest of the band.

* The only thing going through the PAs will be vocals. We are not mic'ing any instruments, and the keyboardist (me) has his own Amp.

* We have 4 singers, so we'd need 4+ XLR inputs.

* It would be nice to have Effects (Reverb, etc...)

* The Mixer would need post-fader sends to drive stage monitoring, however we are not looking to buy a stage monitor at this time.

 

* We currently have a stage monitor, but it's not a long term solution. However it'll due for now, that's why I'm not looking to purchase monitors now.

 

 

I know this isn't much money and compromises are going to have to be made. I'm really not starting with a whole lot of hands on knowledge about PA systems. What I know is just from trolling forums and google searches.

 

I called my sweetwater rep and asked his opinion. He gave me two options:

 

* Option #1: a pair of Mackie SRM350v2 paired with a Yamaha MG82cx Mixer.

 

* Option #2: a pair of Mackie Thump 15s and a Yamaha MW12cx Mixer

 

Other options under consideration:

 

* Carvin XP1000L-1502 8 Channel PA system

 

 

I'm tending to lean towards the SRM350s.

 

Here is my reasoning:

 

* I've seen it suggested that it's a good idea to buy speakers that can double as floor monitors when you're buying your first PA system. That way when you want to step up to higher end speakers, you can still use the original speakers as monitors.

* I've also seen others say that the advantage of larger speakers is the bottom end (Under 90Hz). Being that these speakers are only used for vocals, it doesn't seem like the low end matters.

 

* Some even suggested that smaller speakers are better for vocals because they have faster response time.

 

* Small speakers will be easier to haul around.

 

 

I don't know what to think of the Thump line. I haven't heard anything about them good or bad.

 

Does anybody have experience with the gear I'm considering? Do you agree/disagree with my line of reasoning in leaning towards the SRM350s? Any suggestions about other gear that I haven't considered?

 

Thanks in advance.

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What size places are you playing? Unless they are pretty small (50-100 people), I would find it hard to imagine getting a good sound through a setup like that (vocals only through the PA, stage monitors for the rest).

 

That being said, You probably don't really need anything below 100Hz for vocals. With usually 2-3 inputs on the backs of active PA speakers, you almost wouldn't even need a mixer, but if you can get one with some decent onboard FX, that makes it worth it. I've heard good things on the Mackie Subs, but unfortunately have no experienct with the 2-ways. Yammies consistently get good reviews on here for their mixers.

 

Curious why you think you need POST fader sends for your monitors. That means changes in your main mix will change your monitor mix. Usually you want your monitor mix independant so you can dial it in and no matter what you do FOH, your monitors stay the same. That would be PRE fader sends. In fact, that's why we went with the A&H Mixwizard - because we were able to set it up to do 6 PRE fader, POST EQ sends (we're using 5 monitor mixes for our IEM's). But we do not use it for FOH, just monitors, and it was $1000 just for the mixer.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I'm going to catch a lot of sh** around here for even suggesting this, but the Behringer B212As or even the B215As would fit that budget with a mixer and might I suggest a dbx DriveRack PX for tuning the rooms you play in and saving the settings so the next time you just plug and play. They put out 400w apiece too.

 

Before the Behringer bashing begins they were recommended to me by a professional DJ - who has a set of Mackie SRM450s and Subs to match - and swears by them and told me I won't believe how much bass the B212A puts out. I tried one for my keyboard monitor. He was right. I've used his SRM450s and JBL EON15 G2s as well. Been using it for about a year now with no issues (other than a little road rash - and I'm not superstitious but will knock on wood just in case) and I like it so much I've got a second one on order so I can run my rig in stereo or if I run across the need for a small PA myself I am covered. Weighs <40lbs and about $250 ea. My band used a pair of them at an outdoor pool party last summer and they sounded great!

 

And you can always use them as floor monitors later. BTW - the B215As are only a few dollars more, have a little more power, a 15" instead of 12", and weigh in a bit heavier.

 

Just a sayin' ... may be worth checking them out anyway.

 

Now excuse me while I duck for cover... LOL. Good luck and BTW your logic is pretty sound. Sweetwater doesn't do the B word but MF/GC does.

 

Kronos 88 | MODX7 | Wavestate | Crave | KeyLab 61 | CPS SSv3 | MacBook Pro | MainStage | Komplete 13U | V Collection 9

Behringer Poly-D | ASM Hydrasynth Deluxe | Roli Seaboard Rise 49 |  Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2, Trillian, & Keyscape | AAS Collection

More VSTs than I'll ever figure out

 

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I'm going to catch a lot of sh** around here for even suggesting this

 

Actually, the fact of the matter is, performance-wise, most of their stuff is decent. The problem you run into is heavy wear. It just doesn't stand up that well if you'll be gigging with it every weekend. I've had some Behringer stuff at home that's done pretty well, but I've not had good luck with them for long term live live use. I've experienced about a year or two of good service before things start crapping out. I don't know, I guess I've just gotten to the point where I'd rather just spend the extra money and have peace of mind that I'm not going to have to worry about it. But I've been at this a long time (about 18 yrs in clubs) and didn't really start taking that approach until the last few years. For me, it's more about not having to deal with it at the show. I'll pay a lot of money just to know I don't have to worry about it or have a contingency plan for WHEN it fails - and that's not just Behringer, a lot of stuff falls into that category... cables, power supplies, whatever.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I understand your opinion Dan, and I could have just had a better run of luck than most. I too, believe in the theory of "you get what you pay for" and if my wallet could have handled it, I was very happy with the Mackie SRM450s I borrowed for so long. They had a "thermal protection" circuit that would shut the unit down if it overheated. That was a good thing for protecting the speaker - it only went off on me when I layed them on the floor like a wedge - but a bad thing to have happen to you one stage in the middle of teh 4th set. This little B212 hasn't missed a lick and I think it sounds just as good personally. I agree that equipment sitting in our home studios doesn't get near the abuse that moving it around every weekend will do. So if the OP had twice or three times the budget I think I know where we both would have pointed them. If you look at their options based on the budget they are trying to stay within, I just thought I would throw it in the mix. I have zero experience with any of the other pieces they mentioned so I didn't feel qualified to comment other than that which I have used. If they can get a year or two use out of them and then afford to move to a bigger and better system, then they would serve their purpose. If, on the other hand, they have to be returned for repair/replacement every other month then obviously, they would not. Too bad they don't require musical equipment manufacturers to post meantime between failure data.

 

But it's all good. I'm sure that others who maybe have used the equipment they are inquiring about will chime in. I am not a rabid Behringer fanboy but do own three or four pieces of their gear and haven't had any trouble. Maybe I'm just very lucky!

 

Now let me go get me some new cables... dammit... LOL

 

BTW I forgot to mention I put it on a speaker stand and I personally carry it with me. It doesn't get "thrown around" in the trailer like the rest of our equipment does. That may have bought it some time...

 

Kronos 88 | MODX7 | Wavestate | Crave | KeyLab 61 | CPS SSv3 | MacBook Pro | MainStage | Komplete 13U | V Collection 9

Behringer Poly-D | ASM Hydrasynth Deluxe | Roli Seaboard Rise 49 |  Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2, Trillian, & Keyscape | AAS Collection

More VSTs than I'll ever figure out

 

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The last time I chipped in to pay for a band sound system the band broke up (actually I left to play with other musicians) and I lost the money I invested. Of course I was 17 at the time and I didn't use the sound system; I used an organ and a Leslie. No one chipped in to support my audio needs.

 

I'm a piano player and have a great sound system. I allow the singer to use it though I ask money upfront for the use of my system.

 

If the vocalists need a better sound system, perhaps the vocalists should buy it.

 

When it comes to sound systems, spend more than you had planned.

 

I have never heard a powered speaker system that did not sound painfully bright. Whatever you buy be sure you can return it after using it on a job or two. There's a difference between asking for advice here, asking for advice from a salesman, listening to the system in a store ... and actually using it on a job.

 

 

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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I agree with Dave. I've seen so much turmoil from the band breaking up and fighting over who gets what. The loss of a few bucks is nothing compared to the loss of a friendship. Especially one that has been cultivaated over many years. The B212's are not a bad deal for the price. But the longevity is a factor. The question is will you be able to afford a new pair of speakers when the eventually go. One key thing to keep in mind is that any decent 12" speaker out there will do vocals well, sooner or later you will want (or need) to add more to the mix. If you are in fact limited to 1k total, I would suggest that you look at the Yamaha powered mixer(the 500 watt'er, can't remember the model number, I think 512) and a pair of Yamaha club 15's. That may be a bit over your budget, but definitely is one of the best bang for the buck starter systems. That gives you some mixing options and the auto compress function works quite well for what it is. You could also go with the 12" clubs if you plan on adding a sub down the road. $1000 limits you, be careful and choose your purchases carefully. Whatever you do make sure you get some speaker stand for your boxes.......you will need to get them up in the air.
SR guy thats finally decided to put his collection of toys to personal use (extremely G.A.S.'y) LOL
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We bought a Yorkville PA with NX55P for the mains and LS720P for the subs. The mixer is an Allen & Heath MixWizard 16:2.

I think we payed close to $4k for the speakers & the guitar player wanted to buy the mixer. I assume he payed around $1000-1500 for it.

More money than you want to spend, but you should always buy more PA than you think you need. You'll no doubt buy something and then realize after 3-4 gigs that it's not enough.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

MOXF8, Electro 6D, XK1c, Motif XSr, PEKPER, Voyager, Univox MiniKorg.

https://www.abandoned-film.com

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That Carvin system doesn't look to bad. I use those same speakers in the wedge version for my keyboard rig and they sound great. Plenty loud and nice and clean. I run a vocal monitor send from the PA back thru them along with my keys. My brother has a set of the 1502's he's used for several years in his band, 6-8 gigs a month and they've held up well. He's had to replace horns on both but they sent him the newer crossovers with the protection circuits built in. He also has one of their 16 channel powered mixers and that has been pretty serviceable as well. They run everything thru the mains, drums, all instruments, etc. He also has some powered subs and covers decent sized rooms with that setup.

 

The B word always comes up. My bass player in one of my projects has a whole system of B gear. Powered mixer, big PA cabinets with 2 15's and horns, and subs. It sounds OK, not great, but it is very cost effective. I have a B line mixer I use for my main keyboard rig, and I'm expecting delivery of a Mackie Thump with a small 8 channel B mixer this week to use as a small keyboard rig for certain projects where I don't feel like schlepping around a 100lb rack. I'll give a report on the Thump and mixer soon.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

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P.S. Eric: I think you'd be far better off buying a pair of used SRM450s or JBL Eon 15s than SRM350s. If you're playing "rock band volume" in bars, I think the SRM350s won't be enough for you. There's is TONS of good used equipment out there, so perhaps you can persuade your band members to re-think the "no used gear" rule.
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The last time I chipped in to pay for a band sound system the band broke up (actually I left to play with other musicians) and I lost the money I invested. Of course I was 17 at the time and I didn't use the sound system; I used an organ and a Leslie. No one chipped in to support my audio needs.

 

I'm a piano player and have a great sound system. I allow the singer to use it though I ask money upfront for the use of my system.

 

If the vocalists need a better sound system, perhaps the vocalists should buy it.

 

When it comes to sound systems, spend more than you had planned.

 

I have never heard a powered speaker system that did not sound painfully bright. Whatever you buy be sure you can return it after using it on a job or two. There's a difference between asking for advice here, asking for advice from a salesman, listening to the system in a store ... and actually using it on a job.

 

 

Way back when we originally formed this band, we had a bass player who INSISTED that it was the lead singer's responsibility to supply the PA. We set off on auditioning female leads, and after a few months it became obvious that:

 

1) It was really hard to find a female singer who could actually sing and

 

2) none of the auditionees had there own PAs.

 

The drummer and I asked the bassist to allow us to consider singers w/o PAs. He refused. We kicked him out of the band.

 

If we told our lead singer that the PA purchase was her responsibility, we'd lose her. Plain and Simple.

 

I agree with your advice regarding the value of listening to the gear in a gig environment. I wouldn't consider buying anything online if it wasn't for Sweetwater's no-hassle return policy.

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Oh. You crossposted over here.

 

I left some advice on your other thread.

 

Sorry about the cross post. I originally posted over at the Tech forum thinking that it was a better fit for the advice I was seeking.

 

However then I saw how litte traffic that forum has, and I thought I might get a better advice here.

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P.S. Eric: I think you'd be far better off buying a pair of used SRM450s or JBL Eon 15s than SRM350s. If you're playing "rock band volume" in bars, I think the SRM350s won't be enough for you. There's is TONS of good used equipment out there, so perhaps you can persuade your band members to re-think the "no used gear" rule.

 

I was wondering about that. Sure the 10" speakers give you the frequency response needed for vocals, but will they be loud enough?

 

I was actually the only one in favor of used gear. A while back I offered a proposal that I (personally) would purchase a used Mackie SRM450 to run my keys through. When the band was ready to buy a PA, the rest of the band would be responsible for purchasing a matching speaker, and mixer, etc... That way, when the band breaks up, I take my speaker and let the others fight over how to split the rest up.

 

I thought it was a fair offer on my part, but the idea was shot down because of the fear of buying a used lemon.

 

In any event, now that I own a Keyboard Amp, the prospect of personally buying one of the speakers has lost it's appeal to me.

 

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.....Way back when we originally formed this band, we had a bass player who INSISTED that it was the lead singer's responsibility to supply the PA.....

 

LOL!! A singer that has his/her own PA!! :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

 

How would they be able to show 5 min before starting, and leave 2 min after getting paid?!! :)

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A pair of good-sounding small powered speakers is a great place to start.

 

If you get some that can also be used as floor wedges, that's a big plus.

 

And, if later you want more low end, purchase a subwoofer or two to match up with the small speakers you originally bought and you're good to go.

 

Good luck!

 

Tom

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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buy used. There is no up side to buying new, the resale value of PA gear is pitiful, and you can take advantage of that situation. You don't have to buy crap that has been abused, there are plenty of good deals on good used equipment out there from people who have moved up in quality or size, or have gotten out of the buisness.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Used on Craigs List has been a great source of savings for me. Just bought some PA components for a local private school that asked me to do some shopping for them. Found a live sound company liquidating everything (leaving the biz) that saved the school a bunch of money.

 

Just be patient, wait for good deals on quality equipment and don't leave money lying on the table unnecessarily.

..
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As far as what happens if the band breaks up or a member leaves, you can do some research on band agreements, check out the books by Nolo Press, etc. and prevent problems beforehand. It's sort of like a prenup.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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There are two reasonable scenarios regarding band gear.

 

1. One guy owns it and rents it to the band. (to expect one guy to buy AND maintain AND supply it to the band for free is just wrong.) The rental would have to be reasonable but would also need to account for the fact that a blown speak is going to cost $100 to repair, etc. It costs to store safely. It is work to load and unload.

 

2. The band owns it and works out their own scenario for what happens when something breaks or someone leaves. Again, this should be fair and reasonable. Reasonable might include, well, you used the gear for X amount of time, when you leave, you have no claim. It might include, if anyone leaves, the assets of the band will be liquidated and the proceeds of the liquidation will be split equally among all members. Or any one member might buy out the previous members share. Or any point between.

 

2 things are stupid. One, expecting a single member to buy, supply, and maintain the system for free. Two, that the band should buy and maintain a system, and as the band breaks up and reforms in different configurations, one guy ends up with all the gear for free. Neither is equitable. Figuring out what IS equitable should be done before any purchases are made, and should be agreed upon by all members and understood by all members. Different situations require different solutions. But however they shake out, they need to be reasonable and fair.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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In my local CL today there are two pairs of Yamaha Clubs (one a series 4 one a 5) each listed for $500, a pair of Peavey SP2s for $400, a Yamaha MG12/4 for $125, a good dozen power amps all for under $250 - - -

 

Buying used is the only way to go if you are in a budget as tight as you guys are. Any mixture of the above will blow the socks off what Sweetwater is trying to package for you. Neither of those systems will realistically do the job that you will need for an 80s rock band.

 

I buy used off CL all the time for PA gear. I find it great because you can see the condition of the piece in person, and try it out to make sure it all works.

 

I've got some fantastic buys in speaker systems off CL - a pair of Yorkville Elite EF-508s for $525, and another pair of Yorkville floorstanding Elite E2204s for just $500. They're permanently installed in in a club.

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in my one band the drummer owns most of the pa. we bought a used pair of subs as a band and the singer bought her own monitor. we don't pay rent to the drummer but we all help set up and break down, and if anything needs repair, the band pays for it. if the band breaks up, we'll sell any common purchased gear and split the money we can get for it. we all understand that if we leave the band we forfeit any gear equity. if someone is asked to leave the band, we get a pay off for our share of the value of the gear on the current market. it's not that hard to talk things out and agree.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

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The problem I see you'll have with the small mixers is not enough aux sends. You'll need them for monitoring. For example if you want a separate monitor for each vocalist you'll need 4 aux outs and 4 channels of poweramps to power them if they are passive monitors. Keep note of the aux sends.

 

The yamaha mw12cx has only (1) aux send... the mg8/2cx has NONE!

-Greg

Motif XS8, MOXF8, Hammond XK1c, Vent

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Yeah, listen to Mogut-- make sure you can add monitors! It's really hard to sing in tune without monitors. After a few gigs without monitors, I have the feeling you'll be scraping together a little more cash to come up with some ;)

 

I'm going to say used is better too, in your price range-- if only so you can print this out and show your bandmates that one experienced pro after another said "buy used".

 

Those srm350's might be loud enough. If you could come up with a couple hundred bucks more, the srm450's would definitely do the trick. More inches, more watts! I play in a band with those, and they sound good-- I've also seen them in small clubs as the house sound.

 

I don't know anything about how the Thumps sound-- from the specs, they have plenty of inches and watts (you can tell I'm technically advanced :lol: )

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I'd try and find a used pair of Mackie 450s. The 350s are OK for monitoring or for quiet small club gigs, such as my own band does, but I think you'd quickly find yourself running out of power in loud environments.

 

Mogut's point about aux sends has some validity. I have an MG82cx myself and do plan on using it for small band gigs, but these are quiet, small affairs where there is usually no need (or room) for separate foldback. For bigger and louder band gigs, I'd be rolling out my Soundcraft EFX8, which has a couple of aux sends per channel.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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If you are serious, and you plan to stay together and grow as a band, then it makers sense to have a plan.

 

If you are figuring that your band is going to take a while to get going, then it makes sense to buy an inexpensive solution now, and be prepared to discard it for a better solution later.

 

If you only put the vocals in the PA, then I think that it makes sense to learn to sing together. If you can sing together and blend your voices acoustically, you'll only need one monitor mix.

So most any inexpensive small mixer will work for your needs.

 

If you wan to plan for the long haul, then each piece that you buy, if it is more flexible and expandable than what you need today, will cost more to buy today but will in the long run save money.

 

In any case, sitting down and planning out what you need to buy will stop you from doing what so many musicians do.... run around buying gear willy-nilly, suckering for the deal of the day at GC and wasting a lot of money on what is cool, rather than buying what you need and buying gear that is known to be solid and reliable. Think of it as if you were going to build a house... you wouldn't run out to Home Depot and buy a bundle of 2x4s, some paint, a light switch and a toilet seat.... you'd work from a shopping list derived from the design plans. Building a PA is similar, if you want to do it right.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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... you'll only need one monitor mix.

 

 

My main band still has one monitor mix after 6 years, and it works fine.

 

Lucky for us, we managed to piece together a PA from what we already had individually. I rather like our slightly unconventional PA.

 

I had a pair if Eon15 G2's which I intended for keyboard amps-- those became our mains. (I use the singer's old grey Eon for a keyboard monitor)

 

The singer had a powered mixer, a Yamaha-- not sure which. But it has reverb. And, importantly for us, is capable of a configuration that can send *unpowered* signals to the mains, while sending powered signals to the monitors.

 

The guitar player had some old (unpowered) monitors.

 

Eventually we bought a good powered sub as a band.

 

It's a really good sounding system-- surprisingly so. Any room we play in that's too big for it, has a house PA anyways.

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The problem I see you'll have with the small mixers is not enough aux sends. You'll need them for monitoring. For example if you want a separate monitor for each vocalist you'll need 4 aux outs and 4 channels of poweramps to power them if they are passive monitors. Keep note of the aux sends.

 

The yamaha mw12cx has only (1) aux send... the mg8/2cx has NONE!

 

The MG8/2cx has something labeled C-R Out (L/R). I don't know what C-R stands for. Is that an Aux Send?

 

 

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Many of you are urging me to consider used. Believe me....if it were up to me I would definitely go that way. I will try and convince the others in the band to reconsider their position, but there is one other factor that makes buying new appealing.

 

Right now, there are a few of the band members having a hard time financially. Due to the economy, the guitarist lost his job back in February, and is still looking. Also our singer has recently been through a divorce, and is desperately trying to sell her house in a down market. In addition, her ex has already run up thousands of dollars in back child-support.

 

We've been using a borrowed PA up until now, but we will no longer have access to it shortly.

 

Our plan is to buy a PA though a company that offers a "no-interest for x months" plan, and pay off the purchase with the money we bring in from gigs.

 

If we buy used, we won't have access to financing.

 

I suppose I could lay out the money for the system and have the others pay me back. However I'm not comfortable with that.

 

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