Live Sound 101: Event Sound System Design and Setup

Live Sound 101: Event Sound System Design and Setup

If you have been tasked with setting up a sound system for a 300- to 500-person event, there are various elements, both strategic and technological, to consider. Audio tech people have never had such a broad range of sound reinforcement equipment and techniques at their disposal. The choices of technology and products available can be overwhelming, so let’s talk about some of the options.

Speaker Selection

Your choice of speakers should be based on coverage requirements and the size of the venue. There are some things to consider regarding the shape of the room and how the speakers will interact with boundaries, such as the walls, the ceiling, and the floor.

You want to get the best speakers your budget will allow. Start by figuring out what you can afford and then determine what sounds best to you within that price range. Always listen to the speakers before buying, as not all of them are made equal. When choosing a speaker, you’ll want to consult the specification sheet, which should be readily available from most reputable manufacturers. The most important specs to know are the frequency response, SPL output, and dispersion. If you are using passive speakers, then you’ll need to know the wattage and impedance (ohms resistance).

A full-range speaker with a frequency response of 60 Hz to 18 kHz may be fine for many genres of music, such as country, folk, or folk-rock, where the kick drum and bass don’t need additional punch. For rock, metal, pop, hip hop, EDM, etc., you will want a subwoofer. A subwoofer extends the frequency response down to 45 Hz or lower and will allow the full-range speakers additional headroom and increased output. 

Frequency Spectrum for Full Range Tops and Subwoofer
Frequency Spectrum for Full Range Tops and Subwoofer

The sound pressure level of a speaker will determine how loud a speaker is at a given distance (typically 1 meter). Most spec sheets will show Peak and Continuous outputs. The peak is how loud the speaker is on loud transients, while continuous output is the average loudness. This is a good indication of how the speaker performs, dynamically. Sound pressure levels (SPL) will attenuate by 6 dB with the doubling of the distance. If a speaker were capable of 135 dB at 1m, then 2m would have an SPL of 129 dB. By doubling the distance to 4m, the speaker would output 123 dB and so on. Another consideration is that doubling up on the speakers will result in a +3 dB increase. If a speaker has a peak output of 135, by adding another speaker the output would increase to 138 dB.

Sound Pressure Level to Decibels Distance
Sound Pressure Level to Decibels Distance

Dispersion is the way the sound is projected horizontally and vertically from the speaker. This is incredibly useful for determining the placement of speakers, as you can direct the sound away from boundaries, such as walls and ceilings. For instance, a speaker with a 60-degree horizontal dispersion might work well for a narrow room, while adding an additional speaker could increase the dispersion to 120. The goal is to offer coverage to the entire audience, while directing the sound off the walls. Many speakers are designed to couple by utilizing a trapezoidal enclosure, versus a square or rectangular enclosure. The trapezoidal design allows for easy placement of the speakers, as they can be placed together in tight-knit group or array, which allows for coupling with reduced interference between speakers.

The vertical dispersion will determine how high the full-range tops will need to be to provide proper sound coverage for the audience. There are many ways to configure a system, in terms of height and whether ground-stacking, speaker stands, scaffolding, or trussing should be implemented as a way to get the speaker high enough to offer extended coverage. The higher the speaker, the farther the sound will travel. If it is too high, there will be a loss of impact in the front. Not high enough may result in the sound being uncomfortably loud for the front row.

Horizontal Dispersion
Horizontal Dispersion
Vertical Dispersion
Vertical Dispersion

For our purposes, I suggest setting the tops at shoulder to head level, about 5 to 6 feet from the floor. If you are utilizing subwoofers, you might try ground-stacking the tops on top of the subs. Many speakers offer pole mounts for use with speaker stands. This is the simplest way to get proper height, especially if you don’t have multiple subs to create a ground stack. At the very least, you want your high-frequency driver above the heads of the people in the audience.

Ground Stack
Ground Stack

Active versus Passive

There are pros and cons to both active and passive speaker designs. Active speakers are the easiest to deploy with built-in amplifiers that are matched to the speaker components (woofers, mid-range, and tweeters—typically compression drivers). They also feature crossovers, which isolate and route frequency ranges to each component, and built-in limiters for protecting the drivers. A three-way active speaker will have two or more built-in crossovers, which isolate the high, mid, and low frequencies. The advantage of active speakers is the ease of setup and operation. They only require a line level input and you won’t have to use separate amplifiers to power them.

Passive speakers require amplification, speaker cables, and may require an outboard crossover and other signal processing. Some passive speakers will utilize an internal crossover network, which functions much like the active speakers. Other speakers are designed to be bi-amped or tri-amped, which can be a benefit, as this allows greater control over the speaker components, but also requires a separate amplifier for each component of the speaker. If you decide to go with a passive speaker design, you’ll need to look at the specification sheet provided by the manufacturer to determine the correct amplifier(s).

Active Speaker
Active Speaker
Passive Speaker
Passive Speaker

The input range of a speaker is typically given in continuous, program, and peak wattage measurements. You will most likely see the continuous output and either program or peak. The general rule is a doubling of the continuous results in program, while doubling the program will give the peak performance. For instance, let’s say we have a 4-ohm speaker that requires 600 watts of continuous output, a program output of 1,200 watts, and a peak output of 2,400 watts.

The question that many people ask, is how much power do I need? Do I really need a 2,400-watt amplifier to power this speaker? The answer depends on your total required SPL output. Looking at the speaker’s specifications. We see it offers a continuous SPL output value of 128 dB and a peak SPL output of 134 dB. Let’s say you want an SPL output of 105 dB at 50' from the speaker. Remember every doubling of the distance, lowers the SPL by 6 dB. The speaker’s program output requirement is 131 dB at 1m. 16 meters or 52.8 feet would offer an SPL of 107 dB, therefore you can safely use a 1,200W power amplifier to achieve your target. If we doubled the program output of 1,200 watts to 2,400 watts, you would gain an additional 3 dB. My opinion would be to purchase more power than needed to maintain headroom. This, of course, comes down to budget, because some speakers may require up to 11,000 watts peak output, which would push you into another class of amplification with a much higher price tag.

Another consideration is the impedance or ohms resistance for the speaker. You will need to consult the amplifier specifications to determine how much power an amplifier is able to produce at a given impedance. Most manufacturers will boast the highest output of both channels at the lowest resistance. When matching your amplifier to your speaker, it’s important to consider the ohms rating and wattage. For instance, an amplifier that is rated at 4,000 watts (2,000 watts per channel) at 2 ohms will realistically deliver 1,400 watts at 4 ohms and 850 watts at 8 ohms. Our example speaker has a 4 ohm impedance, which can easily be powered by our 4,000-watt amplifier.

Some amplifier manufacturers will indicate power draws as 1/8 power, 1/3 power, and full power. 1/8 power delivers the amplified signal below the built-in clip limiters, while 1/3 power will have the clip limiters occasionally flashing. Full power will have the limiters in constant activity. When engaging the clip limiters, you are actually rounding off the audio signal to prevent distortion, but the signal of the audio will be compromised. I prefer to run the amplifiers at 1/8 power, which will give plenty of headroom without squaring off the waveforms. You may also use a higher-rated amplifier at 1/8 power without fear of damaging your speakers. Remember, the quickest way to blow a speaker is to underpower it.

Subwoofers also come in active and passive options with the same pros and cons. There are many different designs that can offer outstanding results. The best bang-for-the-buck I recommend is a Yorkville ES18P. It is a self-powered, single 18" rear-horn loaded design with a tremendous output, rivaling or surpassing most double 18" designs.

Yorkville ES18P Subwoofer
Yorkville ES18P Subwoofer

Depending on your setup and how many subs you have, you will have more consistent results by placing all the subs together. Placing two subs together will yield a 3 dB gain in SPL and they will couple without interference. A stereo sub configuration may create null points in the room where certain frequencies cancel each other out. Other tricks to maximize bass are to place the subs near a wall or corner, as each of the boundaries will reinforce the sound and help load the room. My favorite configuration is to center-cluster four subs together (2 wide x 2 tall).

Speaker Processors

Regardless of whether you are using active speakers or passive speakers with an amplifier, you should invest in a speaker processor. In my opinion, it is the most important piece of gear and will save you time, money, and headaches. A speaker processor combines a number of processors into a rackmount signal processor. You will find gain, EQ, delay, crossovers, and limiting for both input and output. A typical processor might have a stereo input and six outputs. The inputs will feature a 6- to 8-band parametric EQ and/or a graphic EQ, as well as a system delay. Each output on your processor will offer gain, a 4-band parametric EQ, a delay for time-aligning speaker components in a bi-amp or tri-amp application, or a full-range speaker and a subwoofer.

Signal Path for a Passive Sound System
Signal Path for a Passive Sound System

You will also find digital crossovers featuring Bessel, Butterworth, and Linkwitz-Riley band-pass filters. Each crossover offers a high-frequency and low-frequency setting with selectable filter types. For tops, I typically set the HPF to 96 Hz on a 24 dB per octave Linkwitz-Riley filter and the LPF to off. For subs, I set the LPF to 96 Hz on a 24 dB per octave Link-Riley filter and the HPF to 30 Hz on a 48 dB Butterworth filter. The major focus is the crossover between the LPF of the sub and the HPF of the top. A 24-dB-per-octave Link-Riley filter keeps the frequency response flat where both the subwoofer and top are crossing over.

Note: A speaker processor delay is not a digital delay effect, as it is intended to literally delay a signal by a set amount and does not offer a “wet/dry” setting. If a manufacturer offers time delay settings for your speakers, you can use those to time align the tops and subs. For example, if a subwoofer has a 3 ms delay, then adjusting the tops to match the inherent delay of the subs will provide a coherent and phase-accurate wave front. If you don’t have the specs, you can invest in a measurement system like SMAART. For those on a budget (and in possession of an iPhone or iPad), you can purchase the AudioTools app by Studio Six Digital, which can help you measure and calibrate your sound system.

Analog Mixers versus Digital Mixers

Analog mixers are the mainstay of any audio system, and range in price and features. There are some diehard analog enthusiasts who will not move to a digital mixing board, as they believe the analog components sound superior to digital. If you are mixing a live band, you will want some additional signal processors to shape the sound of each instrument. Most analog mixing consoles will offer a built-in four band parametric EQ, which helps balance the tonal sound and carves out space for each instrument in the mix. It is rare to find analog consoles with built-in dynamics available on every channel. Therefore, an all-analog setup will require several racks of gear to accommodate the additional signal processing, such as compression and gates for each channel.

Analog Mixer
Analog Mixer
Digital Mixer
Digital Mixer

Another aspect to consider is the use of wedge monitors or stage monitors. These are speakers that are typically on the floor and angled up toward the performers, offering a dedicated mix, which allows the musicians to hear themselves on stage. Feedback can become a problem, so the use of graphic EQs will be needed to remove the frequencies that are feeding back. Add in additional signal processors like multi-effects, delays, and reverbs and you can see the analog setup may sound better, but will cost more money with the additional signal processing, plus there are additional racks, cabling, troubleshooting, and maintenance involved.

Digital mixers have made some considerable advances in recent years regarding the quality of the sound, and pricing that is comparable to many moderately priced analog consoles. Digital mixers offer the best solution for any event with a large channel count because each channel is packed with a four-band EQ, compression, and gating. Additionally, each output features graphic EQ for ringing out monitors. Many mixers feature internal effects with up to eight insert slots for use with internal sends. You can still use your favorite outboard gear, but the digital platform reduces the amount of gear substantially. Another benefit of the digital mixer is the wireless control options. Many mixers offer iOS and Android control apps.

BEHRINGER X32 Digital Mixing Console IOS APP
BEHRINGER X32 Digital Mixing Console IOS APP

If the FOH position is in a less than desirable place, the engineer can move about the room to make informed adjustments based on the audience’s perspective. This also allows the engineer to tweak monitors from the stage, while standing next to the musicians. Many mixer platforms will allow multiple device setups in which band members may adjust their own mix in real time, allowing the FOH engineer to focus on the main mix. Other features now incorporated in the digital platform include spectral analysis and a real-time analyzer (RTA) for making adjustments to monitors or to the entire mix. However, I still recommend a dedicated speaker processor for tuning the sound system.

Stage Snakes and Stage Boxes

A stage box or multi-channel snake is highly beneficial for reducing clutter on the stage. Some larger stage setups use a splitter that splits the signal from all the sound sources on stage between FOH and monitors. Most mid-level bands typically don’t have a dedicated monitor engineer, so the FOH engineer will perform both main mixing and monitor duties. With an analog setup, you’d be working with a 16- to 24-channel audio snake with a cable run of 100+ feet. A drum kit may have 8 to 12 microphones set up to capture the sound, so a dedicated sub-snake allows for shorter mic-cable runs and a much cleaner stage setup.

Stage Sub-Snakes
Stage Sub-Snakes

Utilizing stage sub-snakes before going to the main stage snake will keep the cable clutter on stage to a minimum. Many digital mixers offer digital stage boxes that function like an analog stage snake, only instead of a 16- to 24-pair multi-channel cable, the digital snake will use a single CAT5 cable to connect to the mixer in the FOH position. This cuts down considerably on the weight and setup time of the entire system.

Digital Snake
Digital Snake


For musicians to be heard, microphones are used to capture vocals, guitar amplifiers, and drums. The mainstay of live music is the use of dynamic microphones. There are many microphone manufacturers, but the favorite of most clubs is still the Shure SM58 for vocals and SM57 for instruments. They have proven their value over time by sounding good and being incredibly rugged. They can literally take a beating and still function. If there is the budget and desire for wireless microphones, I highly recommend the Shure GLXD24R+ or QLXD series digital microphones. The GLXD is an affordable option with a clean, clear sound without any artifacts, a simple setup, and a built-in charger in the receiver.

Shure GLXD24R+
Shure GLXD24R+

In-Ear Monitors

Many bands prefer to forgo the use of stage monitors and opt for in-ear-monitors (IEM). I’ve used the entry-level PSM300 Shure Personal Monitoring System for years and have had excellent results. With a digital mixer, the setup and operation is even simpler, resulting in very happy musicians who are able to set their own monitor mix—and without excessive stage volume.

Shure PSM 300 Stereo Personal Monitor System
Shure PSM 300 Stereo Personal Monitor System

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many directions one can choose when setting up a sound system for your band or event: analog mixers versus digital mixers; passive speakers and subs versus active designs. Each has its pros and cons. The most important thing is to use your ears when making decisions. Always listen to speakers before purchasing and, if possible, demo speakers and subs together, especially if you are using different brands. I can’t recommend enough the importance of having a dedicated speaker processor for any system, regardless of size or budget.


I have been tasked with building a new sound and light system for a small church, I am looking at 80-100 venue size in a space roughly 2500 square foot.  I have limited experience and would much appreciate some advice.  We will have 1-3 singers, 2 -3 guitars, drums.  I was leaning towards digital mixer but not stuck on it,  Powered speakers, wireless headset mic for speaker, and am open for suggestion on the rest as well.  Do you have any builds for something like this you would recommend?


Hi Michael - 

We will be happy to address your needs.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of possible recommendations that we could provide.  Please send us an email so we can better qualify your specific application and preferred budget range.  [email protected]

New to this whole speaker setup so figured just to ask instead of causing myself a headache. What speakers and subwoofers do I need for an outdoor event of 500 people? I was thinking of going active speakers and I'm on a budget of $1000 maybe $2000 now I'm ok with 2 speakers and 2 subwoofers but I was thinking of 4 speakers and 2 subwoofers is that do able on that budget? If not what do you recommend. Thanks in advance 

Hi Amgel - 

Consider this set-up:

      JBL Dual EON715 Powered Speaker Kit with Stands, Covers, Bag, and Cables B&H # JBEON715PK

  • 15" Powered Speakers
  • Bluetooth and Advanced DSP
  • Two Speaker Stands
  • Two Speaker Covers
  • Speaker Stand Bag
  • Two Premium Microphone Cables
  • 8-Band Parametric EQ, 3-Channel Mixer
  • Automatic Feedback Suppression + Ducking
  • 90 x 60° Coverage Pattern
  • 55 Hz to 20 kHz Frequency Response

 2 x Alto Professional TS312S 12" 2000W Powered Subwoofer B&H # ALTS312SXUS  

  • For Live Stage, Theater, and Club Setups
  • 12" High-Excursion Woofer
  • 38 to 110 Hz Frequency Range (-10 dB)
  • Class-D Power Amplifier
  • Clip, Thermal, and Overdrive Protection
  • Combo XLR-1/4" Inputs, XLR Outputs
  • Integrated DSP with 6 Output Modes
  • Internally Braced Ported MDF Cabinet
  • Integrated Carry Handles
  • Includes Power Cable
  • Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: [email protected]

I am looking for outdoor live sound system which can produce big sound. I do have EV 30m array speaker, but it sounds not much outdoor situation. Please recommend. Thanks

Hi there really interesting article.  I have been reading about live sound reinforcement for a while and experimenting through trial and error. We have a little family band and do top 40 and Latin tunes as well. My system consists of 4 ekx15sp subs, 2 ekx 12sp tops, 12sp elx monitors and 1 etx 18sp sub also. ( overkill?) Well question is, do I need a speaker processor? Currently using presonus sl 24.4.2 ai mixer w software to ring out and analyzer. Question 2- 1 or 2 subs under mains ? I was thinking 1 and have other 2 15s , 1 on each side of 18" sub in center of band. Or all subs on the center? All your suggestions are appreciated!

Hi Dan - 

Your set-up seems ripe for a loudspeaker management processor like the:

dbx DriveRack PA2 Loudspeaker Management Kit with RTA-M Microphone B&H # DBPA2K


Key Features

  • Loudspeaker Management
  • Mac, PC, iOS, & Android Mobile Control
  • Crossover for 2- or 3-Way Systems
  • AutoEQ Automatic Room EQ Function
  • Automatic Feedback Suppression
  • dbx Compression & Limiting
  • 8-Band Parametric EQ & Graphic EQ
  • Driver-Alignment Delay
  • RTA Mic with Flat Frequency Response
  • Omnidirectional Pattern

    Looking for a complete loudspeaker management system to fine tune your PA setup? Check out the dbx DriveRack PA2, a loudspeaker management system that can be controlled via your Mac, PC, or mobile iOS or Android device. Using an optional microphone connected to its RTA input, its AutoEQ function can be employed to listen to your room and automatically EQ it for optimized speaker performance. The AFS (Advanced Feedback Suppression) feature is designed to eliminate feedback while preserving the sound of your system.

    In addition to automated functions, the DriveRack has integrated dbx compression and limiting as well as both a graphic and 8-band parametric EQ section. It also features driver-alignment delays and a crossover section that supports full-range, 2-way, and 3-way systems. You can control the DriveRack PA2 directly by connecting from your Mac or PC via the rear-panel USB port, or connect the PA2 to a wireless router via its Ethernet port for compatibility with iOS or Android devices.

Well idk if it would be worth it for me to spend 500+ if the presonus sl mixer has the UC software with smaart , the powered speakers have the x over settings on them so the question is, would it be worth it to buy if it does basically the same thing? Your answers and suggestions are appreciated.  Thanks!

Hi Dan - 

The hardware solution I suggested is vastly superior to the software that PreSonus provides. it is more comprehensive and able to tackle tough scenarios that software cannot handle. Try the software first before making an investment in another piece of hardware.

Thanks for the response. I have used the software and as I don't consider myself a sound engineer,  I do read alot and try to do the best I can with what I have. I value your input, if this unit is " superior" to the software that presonus includes with its mixers, I will most likely go with the unit. I think I can use the software to maybe " fine tune" if needed.


I am giving myself a crash course in basic studio sound engineering before the process of purchasing each component for our 5 person band: keys, horn, drums, guitar, bass (and possibly need for a 2nd keys and 2nd guitar for future recording). I've done alright thus far on a modest budget of piecing together harmonious components. Our genre is rock-oriented sound, but we keep the decibel level of this minimally insulated home studio/live rehearsal space at a reasonable level to accommodate my wife and kids two floors up! It's all good. I'm open to in-ear sound, but maybe down the road. I already have many cables, 2 excellent TC Helicon voice a/o horn multi-effect processors. I also have Mesa Flux Drive and Pedal Cracker to distort my vocals for another sound to call and response with the horn player. The set includes supplemental electric drums great during basic solo recording. There is a drum/PA Behringer Ultratone with cheap microphone set up in kick to give depth to live drums with electric drum set. We have an Alesis drum monitor for electric drums. I have a bulky vintage TOA PA for tiered keys and lead vocals with Stageright condenser/Shure 58 and 58/48 for horn and 48 or an el cheapo mic for live kick effect. I plan to use the recent purchase of a Tascam Portacapture 8 to serve potential mobile use and toms, snare symbols during studio recording for now. Guitarist and Bassist bring their amps. We have a powered Europort MPA40BT-Pro to monitor horn. We have a Tascam DR-40x for ambient capture with mics set in open position. We have JBL Series 3 desktop monitors. We want to soon live stream everything to both give folks an understanding of the process of forming original music while learning a rare cover as well as to up our game and keep us on our toes with a virtual audience. I just purchased and have not dove into OBS Studio and Restream. I have only used the basics of Garageband on iPhone. I also have a versatile Microsoft Surface Pro 8 PC/tablet that is powerful and could apply. Lastly I have a Focusrite Scarlett 8i8 that I use with Garageband for solo applications. I have not figured out it's full potential to provide the I/O necessary to hear and I/ for recording full band and live stream. I've used it primarily on my own doing very basic overdub solo recordings. Within the past month I've bought and returned a compact Tascam analogue mixer (don't recall the model); a Behringer Xenyx X1832 USB and an Behringer XAir XR18 and learned they don't seem to be right fit. The X Air may be close, but wifi setup was so cumbersome that after hours of attempts and many tutorials to connect, I put it back in the box and dropped it off at UPS. To me this was a red flag. I suppose I could have drilled another hole and run the ethernet cable from the Netgear router over head to the X Air directly in the basement. I was too headstrong for that. The question this soliloquy may boil down to is what mixer and other integrated features/components would be best to this application? Thanks for bearing with me. Just want to give the full picture.   

Hi Chris - 


Mackie ProFX12v3 12-Channel Sound Reinforcement Mixer with Built-In FX


  • he Mackie ProFX12v3 is a 12-channel mixing console featuring seven Onyx microphone preamps with 60 dB of headroom and a built-in effects engine with 24 built-in FX, making it well suited for live sound, home recording, and content creators. The integrated 2x4 USB audio interface offers high-quality 24-bit / 192 kHz recording and playback with zero-latency monitoring.

    Channels 1-2 offer combo XLR-1/4" mic/line connections and a Hi-Z switch (for guitar and bass), while channels 3-4 offer XLR or 1/4" inputs. Channels 1-4 include inserts, and single-knob compression. Channels 5/6, 7/8, 9/10 offer two 1/4" inputs, while channel 11/12 uses a 3.5mm stereo input. Channels 1-10 feature gain controls, a 3-band EQ, an aux (monitor) send, a dedicated FX send, pan, mute, and level faders. Engaging channel 11/12's USB 3-4 switch will override the 3.5mm input and enable the USB return from a computer. 

    Each channel strip includes button selectors for Main L/R, Sub 1/2, and Solo (PFL). The master section offers dedicated faders for Main, Sub, and FX. Main output connectors include both XLR and 1/4", while sub and control room outputs use 1/4" connector. A dedicated 1/4" TRS headphone output includes its own independent level control. Other features include an input / USB 1-2 blend control, a dedicated FX output, an FX level fader, and an FX mute, which can also be controlled via the 1/4" footswitch input.


  • Professional Sound Quality
    • Equipped with 7 Onyx Mic Pres offering up to 60 dB of gain and ultralow noise performance
    • GigFX Effects Engine with 24 different FX options, from reverbs to delays and more
  • Essential Mixing Tools
    • 3-band EQ on all channels
    • Channels 5 to 10 feature mic inputs and stereo line inputs for maximum versatility
    • Hi-Z switches allows direct connection of guitars, basses, and other instruments
    • 100 Hz low-cut filter and 48V phantom power on all mic channels
    • Stereo 3.5mm input on channel 11/12
    • Aux/Monitor output with dedicated per-channel send control
    • Stereo Subgroup output bus with per-channel assignment
    • Headphone output with separate level and blend control
    • Insert jack on channels 1–4
    • Pre-Fader solo on all channels
    • Footswitch input for FX Mute
    • Single-knob compression helps keep your input levels in check 
  • 24-Bit / 192 kHz 2x4 USB Recording Interface
    • 2x4 USB I/O allows you to create two custom mixes on your computer to send back in to the mixer
    • Perfect for live performance recording, music playback, live streaming, and more
  • Latency-Free Monitoring
    • Easily blend between monitoring your computer’s output and a direct feed from the mixer
  • Professional Production Content
    • Pro Tools | First and Waveform OEM professional software and plugin packages included
    • The DAW Essentials Bundle for Waveform OEM includes 16 powerful plugins like Equalizer, Compressor, Reverber8, and Limiter
  • Signature Rugged Design
    • Mackie built-like-a-tank design
    • Solid steel chassis protects your investment
    • Tough ABS side protection



Right now, I'm looking for 4 powered speakers to use with our sound system at a small theatre.  I'm one of the board members and I in charge of finding the best speakers for our little theatre.  We perform in an open floor setting.  It's a large room and we put up pipe and drape to create a backdrop for the audience.  I want to put one speaker in each corner so I could have stereo or Quad sound and make the sound move around the room when needed.  I thought it would be best to have hard wired (XLR cables) powered speakers so they can be moved around and plugged in anywhere.  Any suggestions on the best speakers for this setting?  I can spend $500 - $800 for all four.  I already have a mixer.  I would also like to place them on stands in each corner.  So, I'm thinking of buying two sets of two speakers with stands.

Hi William - 

Alto Professional TX308 350W 2-Way Powered Loudspeaker B&H # ALTX308
Key Features:

  • For Mains or Monitor Wedge
  • For Small Spaces / Up to 200 People
  • Clean, Clear, Loud & Portable, 12.3 lbs
  • 90x60° Coverage, 75 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Combo XLR-1/4" Input + XLR Link Output
  • Integrated Handles for Easy Transport
  • Precision High-Frequency Horn
  • Full-Sized Steel Grille
  • 1.4" Pole Cup


Auray SS-47A-PB Deluxe Lightweight Height-Adjustable Aluminum Speaker Stands with Tripod Base and Carrying Case B&H # AUSS47APB
Key Features:

  • 2 Speaker Stands and Carrying Bag
  • Lightweight Aluminum Construction
  • Supports PA Speakers up to 120 lb Each
  • Height Adjustable from 3.8 to 7.5'
  • Metal Locking Collars
  • Wide Tripod Base for Stability
  • Nonslip Rubber Feet
  • Lightweight at 6.1 lb
  • Transportable at 44" Collapsed
  • 1.375" Mount with 1.5" Adapter

I'm in a two person Band, Keyboards & Bass. The rest of the music comes thru a Speaker system and we have a PA system to boot. I agree that the PA system should be slightly forward of the mic's. The sound system for the accompaniment should be even or slightly behind the musicians so we can hear the rest of the band correct?


What software was used to create this wiring and stage diagram? 




I am having an amplifier, analog mixer and speakers connected out from the amplifier. I am kind of confused on this concept of LMS, 

Shall I use the LMS along with my analog mixer and amplifier ? What is gonna be the difference if that is feasible ? If that is feasible how to go about my connections? Can you explain or point me to any URL that could give me a good idea ?




Hi Vignesh -

A speaker processing component  would connect to the mixer outputs and the processor will output its signal to the amplifiers which are in turn coupled to the speakers.  

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: [email protected]

For live performances....  Do I need a mixer that has an output for the Sub-Woofer or do the main outputs go into the Sub-Woofer and it acts as the Crossover with outputs to the other speakers?

Hi Lincoln - 

The subwoofer's crossover will handle the incoming signal properly.

I have just recently formed a Metal Band, been playing concerts with provided speaker systems from the venues mainly. But I need to have my own wireless microfone for vocals and speakes. Basically at this stage for 100 -500 people, is it possible to have it upgradable for larger audiences should that miracle happen? So what sort of ranges would it need and what would you recommend?

Hi Alano - 

The Shure PGX Digital Series Wireless Microphone System (B&H # SHPGXD24SM58) combines the convenience of single-touch remote channel setup with the reliability of 24-bit digital operation. Clean RF (Radio Frequency) performance, stable channel operation and low noise are all attributed to the PGX Digital's 24-bit / 48 kHz digital operation. The user-friendly yet rugged design of the Shure PGX system measures up to provide years of reliable use in halls, houses of worship, clubs, theaters, restaurants, bars, etc.


This B&H Kit (B&H # JBEON61518K (B&H Kit)) combines the JBL EON615 Powered Speaker and the JBL EON618S Powered Subwoofer with two speaker covers, a speaker pole, and two XLR cables to form the primary components of a sound system for public address, bars, karaoke, schools, church gatherings and more. The EON615 is a 15" two-way powered speaker system with 1000W of Class D amplification and two input channels. Designed for high-quality audio reproduction, portability and flexibility, the EON615 can be used in a variety of configurations and scenarios. The speaker features on-board factory EQ presets that allow you to set the system as a main house speaker, as a monitor speaker, or as a top speaker for use with the EON subwoofer. The EON618S is a powered portable PA subwoofer, designed to deliver high-quality sound reproduction in a variety of applications supporting EON600 and other full range systems. A lightweight, durable enclosure allows the speaker to be easily transported and set up wherever low frequency reinforcement is needed.

In the Box:

Hay im a drummer been playing many years in many bands. Thing is ive never need any mics to my drums or a pa system so i really never had to work or figure out a PA till now that i have started my own band. Im looking for the best sound i can get working with what i can afford and what i can buy when i have the chance to buy it ive had no help and knowledge about any of this other from what the music store tells me. So i have for my mains the dual 15inch jbl. And 2 18inch peavey black widow. Im pushing it with a beringer inuke 3000 i have a analog 16ch EV mixing board. A peavey 2ch EQ and a lexicon digital effects. 

I dont have a clue how to really hook any of it up rigjt now i have just the lexicon effects going to the mixing board and its workimg cause it changes the sound of my vocals but i dont have a clue now how to hook up the EQ or if even really need it right now and if i dont what should i get right now for better sound. Some people said i need a crossover is this true? I read where you said that a signal prossor and a gate conditioner is the first thing that you should have when running thru a analog mixer if that is true what should i get and is their any way you can walk me threw hooking it up i really need help.. Thanks so much

Hi Allen - 

The Galaxy Audio DSPOT DS-SP24 2 x 4 Speaker Processor is designed for setting crossover frequencies and distributing an audio signal across the parts of a speaker system for installed and portable live sound reinforcement applications. The 1RU rackmountable digital signal processor features two balanced XLR analog inputs, a stereo digital SPDIF input, and four balanced XLR analog outputs.

Each input can be processed with five assignable parametric or shelving filters. Each output has five assignable parametric or shelving filters. The unit also offers high pass and low pass filtering with a slope of up to 24 dB per octave for crossovers as well as an RMS limiter on each output and polarity reversal. Each input and output offers an adjustable delay of up to 850 ms with steps of 22 microseconds which makes it possible to time align and configure a loudspeaker system within a space. Additionally, each input and output can have a custom name assigned to it.

The unit can be controlled via the front panel LCD display control interface, via RS-485 serial control, or via USB connection to an external PC. Control software is available via an included CD or via download from the manufacturer's website.

The Shure DMK57-52 Drum Microphone Kit is a cost effective microphone kit that includes everything needed for capturing drums and percussion in live sound and recording applications. The kit includes three Shure SM57 dynamic cardioid microphones, a Beta 52A kick drum microphone and three A56D universal drum mounts. The SM57A cardioid dynamic microphones are popular with recording and live sound engineers. The microphones are well suited for capturing snare, toms, conga, bongos, timbales, cymbals, overheads and more.

The Beta 52A features a tailored frequency and sensitivity response for accurate reproduction of kick drums, floor toms, timpani and other low-frequency producing percussion instruments. The A56D universal mounts are rugged and effectively mount the SM57's to drum and percussion rims, hardware, etc. The entire kit is designed to withstand the rigors of life on the road, in the studio or at home.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: [email protected]


I sing in a Classic Rock / R&B band with horns. We use a variety of systems depending on who's closest to the gig. For my particular setup we use a Behringer Xynex 1222USB with older Mackie SRM 450's. Depending on the show we use a variety of TC Helicon personal monitors along with a couple of Kustom (Don't Judge) powered floor monitors. Here's the question - I recently acquired a TC Helicon Voicelive Play. What's the best way to run that through my system for live sound? Previously I ran my mic direct to my personal monitor & controlled vocal effects from there during performances.

Hi Rick - 

This product is very easy to use, but is very flexible and offers tons of options for live use.  Please review the user's manual and spend time experimenting with different settings before your next gig.


Am a fresher on sound/stage setting...pls any tip for beginners?

Hi Andrew!


This was very helpful. Would you mind if you could recommend a mid-range sound system components for church purposes with 50-80 people hall.


Many thanks,


Hi Vonne -

Are you looking for a portable system?

The Bose L1 Compact Wireless is a portable line array system designed to provide wide coverage, wired and wireless connectivity, and simple setup for musicians, DJs, and hosts at restaurants, parties, conferences, and other special events. It features proprietary technology and multiple drivers to deliver nearly 180° of coverage for audiences of up to 100 people. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities are provided by the included SoundTouch Wireless Link adapter, which connects via a supplied audio cable to the L1. The system uses interlocking components that require no cables or stands.

It sits at 16.5” high and has two 32.5” extensions for an extended height of 78.5”. XLR, RCA, 3.5mm, and 1/4” inputs allow you to connect a variety of sources such as a microphone, guitar, smartphone, and CD player. The built-in mixer offers controls for volume, treble, and bass, plus ToneMatch presets further enhance your tone. 1/4” and RCA outputs can easily be connected to a recorder or another L1 system.

The L1 Compact Wireless can be carried in a single trip due to its built-in handle and supplied carry bag for the extensions.

Use with this:

The integrated ToneMatch processing and zEQ help you get a great sounding mix quickly and effectively. The Bose ToneMatch processor is natural sounding on vocals and instruments, while the zEQ focuses your tone for effective adjustments on-the-fly. The illuminated, tactile controls, and indicators offer quick, spontaneous sound adjustment, even on dark stages. Additionally, the ToneMatch system offers advanced features such as tap tempo delay, a built-in chromatic tuner, and recallable scenes to create a professional on-stage companion for any performing artists.

Each channel offers a trim knob, a channel edit button, an FX mute button, a volume knob, and a dedicated channel mute. The main output features a master volume control, an independent headphone volume control, and phantom power for working with condenser microphones. The Bose T4S ToneMatch Mixer ships with a magnetic cover and a ToneMatch cable.


I'm using the Mackie ProFX22 mixer for a 5-piece classic rock band.  That mixer has 2 aux sends.  We send one to the drummer's in-ear monitor and the other is sent to a pair of stage monitors.  The singer would like to use a wireless in-ear system.  The other musicians don't have in-ears so unless/until they do, I guess we would keep the stage monitors as well.  And...that's the problem.  Only 2 aux sends but 3 monitor setups.  Can a Send be split 2 ways - one to the stage monitors and one to the singer?  How about chaining the wireless IEM base station with the stage monitors?  One wouldn't have control over those two monitor mixes, but otherwise is that a workable solution? that where a speaker processor comes in?  

Any thoughts on how to accomplish this would be appreciated.  Thanks!

I could not look for any more. You have just touched on every point that I wanted to know. Thanks for the very insightful, educative, and insightful post that is useful for every sound setup in a church.

Hi Fred - 

Consider using something like this:
The dbx DriveRack PA2 Complete Loudspeaker Management System ( is a loudspeaker management system that can be controlled via your Mac, PC, or mobile iOS or Android device. Using an optional microphone connected to its RTA input, its AutoEQ function can be employed to listen to your room and automatically EQ it for optimized speaker performance. The AFS (advanced feedback suppression) feature is designed to eliminate feedback while preserving the sound of your system.

In addition to automated functions, the DriveRack has integrated dbx compression and limiting as well as both a graphic and 8-band parametric EQ section. It also features driver alignment delays and a crossover section that supports full range, 2-way, and 3-way systems. You can control the DriveRack PA2 directly connect from your Mac or PC via rear-panel USB port, or connect the PA2 to a wireless router via its Ethernet port for compatibility with iOS or Android devices.


Have anyone have any recommendations for overhead monitors over a small stage? I have no room for floor wedges, I will appreciate any suggestion from hands-on experience. Thanks.

Hi Luis - 

The AIR12 from PreSonus (B&H # PRAIR12) is a versatile and customizable 2-way active sound-reinforcement loudspeaker featuring 1200W of power and enhanced digital tuning functions, well suited for live bands, DJs, clubs, event halls, bars, speaking engagements, and more. The speaker utilizes two amplifiers for the high and low frequency drivers. A 500W (continuous) Class-D amplifier powers the 12" woofer for efficient and clean low end performance, while a 200W (continuous) Class-A/B amplifier powers the 1.35" compression driver for a natural "airy" high end. Both drivers combine to provide 131 dB SPL with a frequency response of 60 Hz to 20 kHz (-3 dB).

The integrated and easy-to-use digital signal processor (DSP) allows you to customize the loudspeaker for a number of applications including DJ, FOH, Monitor, and Speech presets. Additionally, ±10 dB of treble and bass control allows you to further tailor the sound and compensate for room anomalies. Location presets let you optimize performance for stand and bracket mounting as well as flown installations. The Air12 ships with a power cord.

HELP ANYONE... I have a pair of EAW AS-300is speakers, Horn loaded sound reinforcement sytem. I don't know much about these except they are definitely for the big boys and they weigh alot. I was wanting to sell them does anyone know what they would be worth and what site I could post them. Not for sure on the age of them but they are in good shape but cabinets show a little wear but not bad. Thanks

Hello All, 

Great article. I am an industrial design student and currently working on researching further audio and visual equipment for my thesis. I grew up working under my father's audio rental system . From small parties to sold out concerts and still learning, Anyway I'm wondering what common problems do you guys come across with audio equipment that could be addressed better with design? Thanks 

I have been tasked with refining sound equipment at a small-medium church. Currently all the speakers are active speakers (mains, sub, wedge monitors). I've read that passive speaker setup is better for permanent installations such as churches.

All the equipment is relatively new and in great working condition. Do you think it is worth it to switch to passive setup? I would need to buy new mains, sub, monitors, as well as supporting equipment such as amps, front of house mixer/EQ/processor, and a bunch of speaker cables.

Are there any big drawbacks to using an active speaker system in a permanent install (besides the hassle of turning the switching on and off for every speaker)?

Hi RJ - 

If you are relatively happy with your present gear and the way it sounds and performs, why upgrade now?.  I would advise waiting until there is a compelling need.


I do FoH for a smaller church and we went from passive to active about five years ago as it just saves a lot of hassle.

By moving from passives to QSC K-series speakers we were able to rid ourselves of racks of amplifiers, associated power snakes and the hassles they brought. Most active speakers even have a signal sensing mode so you don’t need to run around and turn them on, they’ll fire up when they sense a signal. It all sounds and works great.

In short, don’t listen to what “people say” - go with what works for you in your situation. I can honestly say I don’t think we’d ever go back to passive.

Bill wrote:

Most active speakers even have a signal sensing mode so you don’t need to run around and turn them on, they’ll fire up when they sense a signal.

Thanks for the great advice Mark and Bill.

Bill, can you please expand on this signal sensing? I've never heard of this feature. I did a Google search and couldn't find any information on it either.

hello dear 

i want to set up sound system in one small church size 12m*12m* what should use for better sound ?and i also want to add drum into sound system. please kind list the Equipment for me. thank you from our chuch.


Hi Chann - 

Please send us this request with budget details and any existing equipment you will need to integrate to:  [email protected]    

hi , have a question ; 

i have four monitors and would like to add feedback control , do i need to encororate two feedback units seeing how each unit only has two channels ? Four seperate aux sends for powered stage floor monitors . I do have each into a sepreate eq unit.



i have big problem

why my subwoofer lose the throw low freqnce 

My Wave form is 35hz-140hz low .........140hz - 2.5khz mid............... 2.5khz - 18khz highz

i use cerwin wega bin n selenium top

Hi Erick -

Check the wired connections at the sub and the receiver to ensure that the conections are "in phase".  That is, the speaker wires are connected observing the correct polarity from each connection terminal:  Negative to negative (-) and positive to positive (+).

Hi. I was using 2 12inch active Mackie srm 450 with alto small mixer in a pub. But the sound was not loud as it could be the carpets and the curved wall structures? So what can I do to make it more loud for 50-75 people in the same place? We were using 2 electro - acoustic guitars, bass guitar and cajun with 2 vocals. 

Should I have to add subs to it or more speakers or upgrade to new mixer? 


Hi. I was using 2 12inch active Mackie srm 450 with alto small mixer in a pub. But the sound was not loud as it could be the carpets and the curved wall structures? So what can I do to make it more loud for 50-75 people in the same place? We were using 2 electro - acoustic guitars, bass guitar and cajun with 2 vocals. 

Should I have to add subs to it or more speakers or upgrade to new mixer? 


Hi Milan -

Are the speakers up on stands? Have you tried an EQ?.  A loudspeaker management  system can be invaluable to use with an existing system:

The dbx DriveRack PA2 Complete Loudspeaker Management System is a loudspeaker management system that can be controlled via your Mac, PC, or mobile iOS or Android device. Using an optional microphone connected to its RTA input, its AutoEQ function can be employed to listen to your room and automatically EQ it for optimized speaker performance. The AFS (advanced feedback suppression) feature is designed to eliminate feedback while preserving the sound of your system.

In addition to automated functions, the DriveRack has integrated dbx compression and limiting as well as both a graphic and 8-band parametric EQ section. It also features driver alignment delays and a crossover section that supports full range, 2-way, and 3-way systems. You can control the DriveRack PA2 directly connect from your Mac or PC via rear-panel USB port, or connect the PA2 to a wireless router via its Ethernet port for compatibility with iOS or Android devices.





You have 2 12 inchis ev sound speakers

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