Essential Components in a Public Address System

Public address systems are an important part of our day to day lives as long as we need to address the public and hold events. They play a vital role in reinforcing and enhancing the sound at any particular event. These systems make it easier to make announcements in large or noisy surroundings such as a sports stadium or rail terminals.  While most people today opt to hire public address system providers, it is in your best interest to learn what happens behind the scenes and the components involved. Knowing what to expect can help you to determine if the sound is right or poor quality irrespective of whether you’ve hired the systems or you are using your personal PA system.

Considering the broad range of PA systems in the market, it can be daunting to choose the best PA system especially if you are a first-time buyer. Similarly, it can be challenging to set up the sound systems, especially to individuals who have not dealt with any audio equipment before. Therefore, you should be willing to learn what makes up the public address system and know the purpose of each component. This article explores some of the essential elements of a public address system with a detailed insight into what they do and what you should take into account before making a purchase.

Microphones

A microphone is a fundamental component of any public address system. It’s mandated with the responsibility to convert sound into another form of energy, electric signals. Microphones can convert acoustic energy to electrical energy in different ways using either a large capacitor or electromagnetism. There are various types of microphones in the market with the dynamic microphone taking the lead as the most common type. Dynamic microphones can either be lapel or handheld. Microphones work by modifying sound into electric signals for amplification.

While using it, it is advisable that you place the microphone at a reasonable distance from the sound source such that it is not too close or too far away. You can test the quality of the sound by placing the microphone at different distances to establish where it sounds the best. With the vast selection of microphones in the market today, it is important that you conduct sufficient research from sites such as microphonegeeks and other sources so that you can learn as much as you can about microphones.  This will come in handy to help you make the right decision and choose the right type or style that fits well to your needs. To prevent feedback, avoid placing your microphone directly in the same line with the loudspeakers of the same system. Otherwise, it will result in the annoying noise that is not pleasing to the ears.

Amplifiers

Also commonly referred to as amps, amplifiers increase the level of the initial sound source electronically. If you are using passive speakers, it is crucial that you match the power the speaker can take to the power provided by the amplifier. If you want to simplify the setup process, you can opt to buy a mixer that comes with an inbuilt amplifier. Otherwise, if your mixer does not feature a built-in amp, you will need separate cables to convey the signal from the mixer to the amplifier. Nonetheless, it is important to note that under certain circumstances, the loudspeakers may also come with inbuilt amplifiers.

Speakers

Speakers are an important part of the public address system and happen to be the most visible part of the PA system. Speakers can either be active or passive. Active speakers come with an inbuilt amplifier whereas passive speakers call for an external amplifier. Unlike with the microphone, a loudspeaker converts electric signals back into acoustic energy.  However, as a result of amplification and sound reinforcement, the sound from a speaker tends to be louder than the original input. Before making any purchase,  see to it that your public address system comes with all the required cables and components to enhance easy setup. Also, be sure to look out for driver size and the power rating before buying speakers. It is important to note that loudspeakers come in different sizes and wattages. Therefore, it is crucial that you select speakers with the right wattage for your particular needs and also those that are compatible with your PA system. You can contact the manufacturer or carefully read the user manual to determine whether all your components are compatible.

Mixers

Mixers come with numerous features that make it easy to enhance the quality of the sound. The mixer comes with plugs on which you can add additional components to get a crisp sound and make it useful for the required performance level. Mixers come with multiple channels on which you can plug in microphones and other sound sources. Before making a purchase, make sure the mixer features sufficient channels to enable you to accept all the required or available sound sources. The newest mixers have some convenient features such as in-built amplifiers, inbuilt digital effects, and USB sockets.

Audio Playback

Depending on the situation, you may be required to amplify pre-recorded audio files or music. This can be accomplished using different devices such as iPods and MP3 players. The audio file is transmitted from the device through a lead running from the headphone socket of the music player which is then plugged into the mixer. You can also play audio files from your laptop by taking the lead from the laptop’s audio output and plug it into the mixer. Newer PA systems and mixers come with builtin MP3 players that can play back audio files from USB sticks, DVD players, and memory cards.

Cables

Cables are used for connectivity between different components including the microphone and the mixer as well as  the speakers and the power amp. Having the right cables in place can be the difference between your audience hearing you or not. Make sure you have proper cables in place and also see to it that they are long enough to accommodate all the necessary connections. A good public address system should have in place strong, solid cables that can withstand any unwanted or unprecedented elements including a sudden change in weather conditions. However, some microphones are wireless meaning that there is no cable connecting them to the sound system. They are ideal for interactive presentations where the user may have to move around a lot, or he or she is taking opinions or questions from the audience.

Monitoring systems

When dealing with sound equipment, it is important that you have in place sound monitoring systems to ensure everything works out well during the performance. With a proper monitoring system, any defect in the sound quality can be detected and resolved promptly. Depending on the user preferences, there are numerous choices to choose from when looking for the best monitoring system.  Therefore, pick a monitoring system that meets your specific needs and also one that you are comfortable with.