Let's Talk Live Sound Equipment—Brands We Like & Our Preferences
Updated: Mar 6, 2022
When it comes to live sound equipment, every engineer seems to have their own opinion about how things should be done. Some will prefer one brand of speaker over another, some will have specific types of cables that they like to use. The great thing about operating live sound equipment, however, is that outside of a few defined guidelines, there really are no rules. At Channel Audio, we have our own preferences, just like anyone else. Read further to find out what we like!
The EV logo on a PA speaker is an immediate sign of quality. For 90 years, Electro-Voice has designed and engineered leading‑edge sound reinforcement solutions. Engineers appreciate that they can get their hands on EV equipment without spending a fortune. The new ELX series of powered portable PA speakers represents incredible and rugged quality.
It is hard to talk about live sound equipment and not mention JBL. Founded in 1946 by James Bullough Lansing, the company took on his initials and began producing loudspeakers and various other audio electronics. Today, JBL manufacturers everything from car speakers to waterproof bluetooth speakers. JBL’s PA speakers are known for their bass response, quality, and rugged construction.
Just like JBL, it’s hard to find a live sound setup not using anything made by Shure, the manufacturer of the iconic SM58 and SM57 microphones. Some engineers claim that they could mic a whole band with just SM57s. Beyond the famous pair of SM series microphones, Shure has a microphone for nearly every application.
If there was a list of most iconic microphone manufacturers ever, AKG would have to be a close second to Shure. At Channel Audio, we love the versatile D112 Dynamic Mic, and never hesitate to use for anything from a bass drum, to a bass amp or floor tom. Continuing the theme of other manufacturers on this list, AKG microphones are known for their rugged quality.
Live Mixing Consoles
For a long time, Mackie has made some of the most widely used portable analog mixing boards. With their distinct appearance, many engineers have cut their teeth on a Mackie board. Mackie’s low noise mic preamps pioneered the industry standard for modern preamps. It is hard to find a mixing board that doesn’t draw some design elements from the earlier Mackie boards.
Live sound technology has rapidly evolved, and a company that has been at the forefront of the digital live sound revolution has been Midas. Midas mixing boards can look like a spaceship cockpit to a non-engineer. Midas digital boards are consistently a few years ahead of their competition.
Channel Audio exclusively utilizes Crown power amps for all of our passive PA systems. A subsidiary of the Harman Professional family of brands, Crown exclusively produces some of the highest quality power amplifiers available to sound engineers. In recent years, Crown has pioneered power amp technology with their DriveCore™ circuitry, seamlessly integrating the amplifier drive stage into the power output stage fusing everything into a chip the size of a dime.
When selecting cables, there are many companies that produce quality cables. Instead of only selecting a few brands, there are some tell-tale signs of high-quality audio cable. The noise floor ratio should be as low as possible, the cabling should be shielded and braided, and the manufacturer should be utilizing a high-quality connector such as one manufactured by Neutrik or Amphenol. Many times, you can obtain a higher quality cable at a cheaper price by making it yourself! Simply buy some high quality 3-pin cable wire and connectors and get to soldering.
Tips & Tricks
Always turn on your PA system’s power amps at least 15 minutes prior to feeding signal through them. This allows the circuitry to warm up and stabilize.
Don’t buy cheap cables! You can have some of the best amps and speakers in the world, but cheap cabling can let you down.
PA speakers with wood cabinets tend to sound warmer and fuller with more accurate frequency response than those enclosures molded with plastic.
An easy way to keep your cables organized and rolled is tie-line. Grab a large roll off eBay or Amazon and attach some to the end of all of your cables.
Lastly, take care of your gear. Gear that is properly maintained not only looks better, but will sound better and be much less likely to break down on the job.
If you have any more questions about our audio equipment, don’t hesitate to message us or drop us a call at 615-669-2126. We’d love to hear from you!
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