Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Best sound stands 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated January 1, 2019
Best sound stands of 2018
I make the search easier for you, by reviewing the best sound stands on the market. There’s a product for every kind of user on the list of affordable options below. So, what exactly would anyone want to know about sound stands? I know most of us don’t really care much about the history and the origin, all we want to know is which of them is the best. Of course, I will spare you the history and go straight on to the best sound stands. Customers need to be careful on how they spend their money on these products.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
№1 – 3.5mm Studio Professional Microphone Mic with Stand For Audio Sound Recording Skype Desktop PC Laptop Notebook
Why did this sound stands win the first place?
The material is stylish, but it smells for the first couple of days. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product.
№2 – AYNOO Microphone Suspension Clip Stands Adjustable Boom Studio Scissor Arm Stand for Compact Mic families
Why did this sound stands come in second place?
I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. Seems that the material is good. It has a very beautiful color but I don’t really like the texture. I really liked it. It is amazing in every aspect. It did even exceed my expectations for a bit, considering the affordable price. The design quality is top notch and the color is nice.
№3 – SANUS Adjustable Height Speaker Stand – Extends 28″ to 38″ – Holds Satellite & small Bookshelf Speakers
Why did this sound stands take third place?
A very convenient model. It is affordable and made of high-quality materials. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time.
sound stands Buyer’s Guide
Bluetooth and wireless streaming
Features and inputs are overrated on sound bars, with one big exception: built-in music streaming.
Bluetooth is the easiest way to wirelessly stream audio from your smartphone or tablet. It works with the music stored on your phone and any music app (think Pandora), plus it’s platform-agnostic — nearly all iOS, Android and Windows phones and tablets have built-in Bluetooth. If your music experience these days revolves around your phone, you really want built-in Bluetooth in your sound bar.
While it’s possible to add Bluetooth later with an adapter, it’s not an ideal solution.
Sarah Tew/CNET ‘s or Logitech’s), but that’s not a great solution since inputs are typically limited on sound bars, and you also need to make sure your sound bar is already turned on and set to the correct input.
While most sound bars include a remote, they’re pretty crummy quality, and most manufacturers instead rely on you to program the sound bar to respond to commands from your TV’s remote.
In theory, it’s not a bad idea: nobody wants another remote to deal with. In practice, it’s sometimes more problematic. After you disable your TV’s internal speakers, some televisions display an annoying status message whenever they receive volume remote commands, which will happen if you’re using your TV remote to control your sound bar.
Soundbars and soundbases
Soundbars can be standalone or come with a separate subwoofer to help give some presence to the lower frequencies. Perfect for anyone that wants to feel the explosions in their core. Some soundbars also come with multiple speakers that look to try and emulate a 5.or 7.surround sound experience. Simple physics means these are often a pale imitation of true surround, however. There are also soundbases, too. Rather than just being a bar-shaped speaker that sits in front of your television or gets mounted to a wall, soundbases act as a platform your television can sit on top. These often mean larger drivers can be installed inside.
It’s a little deeper than most soundbars, but this allows room for a small subwoofer, and this makes it neater without compromising too much on sound quality. Overall, this is a great soundbar for a sensible price.
Q Acoustics MSoundbar
The size leaves enough space for a pretty hefty subwoofer inside, while the BMR drivers ensure an even spread of sound around the room, making the Ma great option for either TV and film or just playing music from your phone over Bluetooth.
This Yamaha unit is a beast. With dual front speakers and dual built-in subwoofers, it’s a great, affordable option for those who want one product that solves all their TV audio problems.
Its slim, one-body design is really low profile so will sit in front of a slightly raised TV with no problem. The pairing of speakers and subwoofers allows for the best virtual surround sound possible from a single bar unit.
It comes with a remote control that allows for precise fine-tuning of the set up, handy if you use the system for music playback as well as TV.
Sonos’ attraction is its quality and its simplicity. You can use it as a home HiFi system as well as your TV’s speaker. Wireless setup is a breeze with the companion app, which also connects to major streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music with ease.
If you love the PLAYBAR you can then easily expand your speaker setup around the home with the rest of the Sonos line; speakers can be added, moved and customised with ease and all controlled from your phone or tablet. It’s expensive, but with good reason – it’s one of the best soundbars out there.
This Sony soundbar comes with a subwoofer and is excellent value at just over £100 at the time of writing. The system packs in virtual surround sound processing and an easy way to connect wireless devices with NFC.
The 2.channel system’s two drivers give balanced audio reproduction for your main TV, creating a cinematic experience wherever you decide to place it. This is helped by Sony’s ClearAudio+ technology that automatically optimises depending on the audio format.
How We Test Soundbars
When testing soundbars, we play range of media — including movies, music and games — in order to evaluate overall sound quality. We also test any companion software that may come with a soundbar, and factor in how easy it is to set up and use each device.
Other features we consider include a soundbar’s inputs, outputs and ability to be wall mounted, all of which determine how well it will work with your home entertainment setup. We also take into account each soundbar’s wattage, its supported audio channels and whether it includes a subwoofer — all factors that greatly affect how each speaker will sound in your living room.
Slightly limited stereo effect
Not content with dominating the TV world, Samsung now seems to have its sights set on becoming the number one brand for home entertainment audio, too. All this effort has already delivered outstanding results in the shape of both the HW-K850 and, especially, HW-K950 Dolby Atmos soundbars, as well as a range of ground-breaking multi-room wireless speakers.
The Q Acoustics Msoundbar doesn’t immediately set pulses racing with its slightly prosaic looks, ‘mere’ 2.1-channel sound and lack of any HDMI support. However, you only have to hear what the Mcan do with both music and movies for your doubts about it to evaporate almost instantly. In fact, it sounds so good that it starts to make the idea of trying to deliver more channels from an affordable sound bar look a bit silly.
A bit too big for most TV setups
The Philips Fidelio Bis an impressive bit of kit, and it’s the perfect soundbar for someone who appreciates good cinema sound but has no interest in tearing up their living room to install a 5.surround sound system to use only every now and then. The Benables you to pick and choose your movie moments, and do it on a whim. And it creates a pretty decent surround sound experience too, using both Dolby Digital 5.and DTS Digital Surround decoding.
The combination of convenience and good audio – the raison d’etre of the soundbar – with its transformative surround sound capabilities makes the Fidelio Ba great option for the movie fan who can’t face all the aggravation of a proper 5.installation.
Slightly muddled surround sound
Do you need Dolby Atmos? This more immersive ‘3D bubble of surround sound’ tech is here, created not only by a standard soundbar design, but with a couple of satellite speakers and a subwoofer added. Is that verging on a messy home cinema cinema of old? Perhaps in theory, but this is one of the sleekest implementations of Dolby Atmos yet. Using rear speakers with upward-firing speakers, it actually creates a virtual 5.1.system.
Narrow sound stage
Focal, most known for its excellent sounding speakers (and the recently released Focal Listen headphones), is late to the soundbar space, but its Focal Dimension was worth the wait. The Dimension soundbar is simply gorgeous, with its piano black accents and aluminum unibody construction.
No HDMI ARC
For the price, you get a great sounding, entry-level soundbar that fits just about anywhere and is easy to use and setup. If you’re on a budget and looking for a soundbar to fit into a small setup then the HT-MT300 is a great choice, but if you’re less restricted then you might want to opt for another soundbar on this list.
Sony HT-MT300 Soundbar
It’s a breeze to set up since its subwoofer is wireless, though Android users may be frustrated by LG’s buggy app. Sound quality is decent for the price, but in the end loses out to traditional bookshelf speakers in terms of clarity on the high-end. However, if you want a soundbar that can take on every type of media you can throw at it, the LG SH7B is a great option.
Doesn’t come with a subwoofer
Sound bars are a simple way to provide richer, sharper sound quality and clearer voices from your flatscreen TV.
Sound bars feature either an inbuilt or separate subwoofer. Subwoofers create deeper, low-frequency bass sounds. An inbuilt system won’t offer the same levels of depth, although high-end models come close. An inbuilt subwoofer may be beneficial if you’re worried about being too loud.
Home cinema system
TV sound is usually channel (stereo left/right). Home cinema systems expand this sound to go across multiple channels. For the most perfect, dimensional sound experience, you need a 5.(or above) soundtrack specially created for surround sound. You can find this on selected DVDs, most Blu-rays, and subscription or cable services like Sky or Netflix.
Multiple speakers take up space, but are available in many sizes, and smaller does not have to mean quieter. Unless you invest in a wireless system (which tends to cost more) you will have wires extending around the room. Some systems are part wireless – these connect the front and back of the room wirelessly, so only speakers near each other require a cable.
All sound systems come with a subwoofer, either built-in or as a separate unit. It creates deep, low frequency bass sounds and can be placed anywhere, as it doesn’t project sound in a direction the way a normal speaker will.
A separate subwoofer will produce deeper sound than an inbuilt subwoofer, although some premium designs come very close.
Active or passive speakers
This is largely academic unless you intend to customise your system. Most speakers are passive, because they don’t need to be connected to the mains. Subwoofers and amplifier/receivers will sometime require mains power, making them active speakers.
FAST TRACK IN-STORE COLLECTION
Pay online and enjoy super-fast collection at our dedicated Fast Track counters in-store. Subject to availability.
Buy before 6pm and we’ll deliver by 10pm the same day for only £3.95, days a week. Subject to availability.
Staying in control
Initially developed as a reaction to wimpy TV sound, sound bars have taken on a life of their own, providing a user-friendly combination of performance, convenience, and value. With so many models to choose from, everyone should be able to find a model that suits their preferences and pocketbook.
Argosy Classic Speaker Stands
The most basic consideration when shopping for speaker stands is the weight rating. Are the stands rated to handle the weight of your speakers? If not, that means the stands will likely be unstable when your speakers are placed on top. However, just because a manufacturer rates a pair of stands for the weight of your speakers, that doesn’t mean they will be as stable as you want. If you have kids or pets, you need to think about more than just weight rating. Other factors, such as the weight and height of the stand, and the size of the bottom plate, will give you a more complete picture of the stand’s stability.
Speaker stands are generally made of two materials, wood or steel. Both have their own merits. Wood stands tend to be less expensive as long as they use MDF with some sort of wrap; however, these stands don’t hold up well over time as the wrap is often times easily damaged. Solid wood stands are more durable, but are also much more probably fair to say that most stands on the market are constructed of steel.
Usually steel stands utilize a hollow main support, which means they can be speaker stands with sand, or some other material, is a common practice to improve stability and even sound quality. Additionally, steel stands tend to hold up better than wood because, well, they’re steel.
Base & Feet
Obviously, the wider and heavier the base, the more stable the stands will be. The base on the Sanus SF2Speaker Stands is 11”x14”, and they were quite stable during my review of the nearly 30lb Polk Audio LSiM703s. I’m not sure how heavy the base is, but the entire stand weighs about 16lbs. You will be hard pressed to find stands with a base much larger than 11″x14″.
The OmiMount Gemini stands feature interchangable base inserts used on carpet. The spikes punch through the carpet and pad to secure speaker directly to the subfloor underneath. If you are particularly concerned about stability, try to find stands that work with 3rd party outriggers, such as those from Soundocity.
At some point, every TV watcher and movie lover realizes television speakers are terrible. They’re almost always tiny, and oftentimes they don’t even aim their tinny sound out into the room (instead, they face down or backward into the wall).
So what to do? You have a number of options, actually. Even the most affordable soundbar offers a substantial audio upgrade, improving dialogue clarity and giving more weight to music and sound effects. The best soundbars deliver a level of performance approaching that of dedicated home theater systems.
Notice, though, that I said “approaching.” If you really want to re-create the true cinema experience at home, and you have the space for it, your best option is a 5.surround-sound speaker system paired with a good AV receiver. This includes separate speakers for on-screen action, music, and sound effects to the left and right of the screen; dedicated speakers at the rear of the room for surround sound effects; and a subwoofer to deliver deep bass. You could opt for a so-called “home theater in a box,” which includes the AV receiver and speakers all in one package, but you probably shouldn’t. You could also buy a larger speaker system with additional rear speakers and, these days, even overhead speakers (or top-mounted speaker modules that bounce sound off the ceiling). But for most people, 5.channels is plenty.
For now, we’re also limiting our consideration to 5.1-channel speaker systems, which may seem strange. After all, the surround-sound home theater market is currently going through one of its awkward growth spurts thanks to the arrival of the home versions of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, which add overhead speakers to the traditional surround-sound speaker layout of three in the front and two in the back (or on the sides). This creates a truly three-dimensional element to the home movie-watching experience. That said, these technologies are still not nearly as ubiquitous as traditional surround sound. So for now, we’re sticking with 5.because you can add height speakers to a system down the road if you decide to upgrade to an Atmos-capable AV receiver.
And what do we mean by 5.1? The “5” stands for two main speakers positioned to the left and right of the TV, a center speaker between them, and two speakers in the rear of the room for surround-sound effects. The “.1” is the subwoofer, which creates all the low-frequency bass sounds.
It’s becoming increasingly common these days for home theater enthusiasts to add a second (or even third or fourth) subwoofer to their surround-sound setups. There are many reasons why this is a good idea, but considering that most of the systems we tested come as complete packages, we kept the playing field even with a single sub. Check out the A big upgrade section for more on why you’d want more subs, and some options.
How we picked
Because the goal was to find the speaker system(s) that would appeal to the widest possible audience, such love-it-or-hate-it packages were taken out of the mix. Using these methods I narrowed the list down to the best-reviewed and/or most-discussed systems. Because no reviewer (or perhaps anyone) had heard all of these systems back-to-back, I got them in for direct testing and comparison.
How we tested
For setup, calibration, and testing, I relied on Anthem’s MRX 7AV receiver. Why that receiver in particular? Two reasons, actually. First, its Anthem Room Correction software allowed me to store the distance, level, bass management, and room-correction information for each system in a file on my hard drive. This meant I could quickly upload those parameters during our blind listening panels, reducing the downtime between face-offs.
Secondly, the Anthem Room Correction software gives me more control over how I set up and EQ the speakers. For example, it enables very fine control over the crossover between the subwoofer and main speakers, which allowed every speaker system in our roundup to perform at its best.
Using EQ in speaker reviews is a somewhat controversial topic. If you’d like to dig deeper into why, you can read my article “Automated Room Correction Explained” on Home Theater Review’s website. In a nutshell: Pretty much any room is going to negatively impact the performance of your subwoofer and the low frequencies coming from your main speakers. The right amount of equalization can help ameliorate that. Applying EQ to the midrange and treble frequencies can drastically change the sound of a speaker, though, which would defeat the point of this guide. So I applied equalization only to bass frequencies below 300 hertz in an attempt to minimize any booming or unevenness in the bass caused by my room, but in a way that wouldn’t change the distinctive voice of each speaker system.
After I measured and calibrated all the speakers, I borrowed a second Anthem MRX 710, placed the receivers side by side, and connected the HDMI outputs from my Oppo BDP-9Blu-ray player to both. I wired the speakers with Wirecutter’s top pick for the best speaker cable, Monoprice’s 27412-gauge wire, then invited my lifelong friend Dave Calhoun over for numerous blind listening panels. Dave is a guitarist with more than 20 years of recording experience, and he was instrumental in sparking my interest in high-end audio back in the 1990s. He and I also tend to have quite different taste in speakers, which I thought might lead to welcome argument and discussion. The goal, after all, wasn’t to find the speaker system that I liked best, but the one that would work best for the widest possible audience.
My wife, Bethany, who works in video production, audio editing, and communications, kindly volunteered to operate the two receivers, switching between them at regular intervals so that neither Dave nor I knew which of two speaker systems we were listening to at any given time. We selected two speaker systems at random, uploaded their configuration files to the MRX 710s, checked their levels and matched them with my handheld sound meter, and the winner of each round went on to face another competitor. We also swapped the positions of speakers during testing to make sure that placement wasn’t giving one system an unfair advantage over the other.
For listening material, we relied primarily on four clips from the 201DTS Demo Disc Blu-ray. For movies, we focused on a clip from Oblivion, because its mix is so dense that dialogue tends to be muddy through anything less than an impeccably designed speaker system; and a clip from Pacific Rim, because Dave and I are little boys. (Also because the clip features some ferociously deep and hard-hitting bass, which makes it an excellent test for subwoofers—which tend to be one of the weak spots in surround-sound systems in this price range.) In additional testing, we’ve added the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Blu-ray, as well as selections from the new 201DTS Demo Disc Blu-ray to the mix.
For music, we mostly listened to the surround mixes of Silversun Pickups’s “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” due to its strong emphasis on guitars, vocals, and other midrange sounds, as well as Dave Stewart’s “Every Single Night,” which boasts tons of bass, plenty of high-end sparkle, and a very busy sound mix that has a habit of getting particularly crowded when played through lesser speaker systems.
During the course of our testing, we all noticed three common trends. The first is that larger speaker systems almost always won against compact speaker systems, even with their volumes matched. They were, with only a few exceptions, always more dynamic (meaning that they could play more quietly without sounding dull and lifeless and more loudly without sounding strained and distorted). And in most cases the larger systems sounded more cohesive, with less of an audible disconnect between the subwoofer and the main speakers.
Another important factor is reasonably wide, even dispersion, which means that the quality of sound should be similar whether you’re sitting directly in front of a speaker (on axis) or off to the left or right (off axis) and that the transition between on-axis and off-axis performance should be smooth. Many center speakers, in particular, struggle with this.
The research also demonstrated that speakers with lower levels of distortion consistently ranked better than speakers with higher levels of distortion in blind listening tests, which speaks for itself. Of course, designing a good speaker involves a lot more than these considerations, but it’s a safe bet that most speaker manufacturers aiming to appeal to the broadest audience are going to aim for these three targets.
Another important aspect affecting overall system performance is the crossover between the subwoofer and main speakers. In your typical surround-sound system, the subwoofer is responsible for delivering deep bass frequencies (e.g., kick drums, bass guitars, the engine rumble of J-type 32Nubian royal starships), whereas the main speakers deliver the midrange sounds (e.g., human voices, guitars, horns) and high-frequency sounds (e.g., glass shattering, steam escaping from a teakettle).
But there isn’t simply one frequency at which the subwoofer drops out and the main speakers drop in. The subwoofer gradually drops off in volume at higher frequencies, while the main speakers gradually increase their volume to compensate.
So in any system that includes a subwoofer, there is a small range of sounds reproduced by both the sub and the main speakers. Simply put, the frequency at which both sub and main speakers generate the same amount of sound is the crossover frequency, which can be higher or lower depending on how much bass the main speakers are capable of generating. Ideally, this point shouldn’t make itself known. The speakers and sub should work seamlessly together, as they do in the ELAC system.
All three of our top picks were capable of handling a crossover point of 80 hertz, which is roughly the same tone generated by the fattest string (the low E) on a six-string guitar, and THX’s recommended crossover frequency. The Pioneer SP-PK52FS system did sound better with a slightly higher crossover point of 100 hertz, though, which is down around the lowest tones of a typical male voice.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
If there’s one significant knock against the ELAC Debut system, it’s that its subwoofer, for all its technological innovations, lacks a bit in the way of very deep bass output. This doesn’t keep the sub from delivering a healthy kick, mind you. Explosions and slamming doors and gunfire and exploding bombs all hit with appreciable oomph. But in The Force Awakens, for example, when Poe Dameron is first captured by Kylo Ren, you don’t hear the ultra-deep, resonant rumble of the blaster-bolt hovering in midair that you can hear with more powerful subs. It’s simply inaudible here.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Throughout the game, there are times when non-player characters join you on your adventures, and their sidekicking dialogue always comes from the positionally appropriate speakers. If they move behind you (or you walk in front of them) while they’re speaking, their voices move from front to back. In such cases, there’s a tonal shift in the sound of the voices. Not so much that they sound like different people, but more like they developed a slight head cold on their trip from the front of the room to the back.
Simply moving the surround speakers down to ear level went a long way toward correcting this.
The one thing I couldn’t correct for with speaker placement is the fact that the sound of the ELAC Debut Ccenter speaker also gets a good bit softer if you’re seated too far off-center. Seated two people side by side, about 7.feet from the center channel, we didn’t notice this. In fact, I moved my head from side to side quite a bit from my seating position to check for any major inconsistencies in the sound. (With many center speakers, any significant head movement makes it sound like you’re listening through a picket fence). That definitely isn’t an issue. But I did notice that if I moved closer to the edge of the room (not where I would normally sit, but certainly within the bounds of normal seating positions in some living rooms), the center speaker became less consistent, softer, and less detailed, which did make dialogue a little harder to understand in shows like Netflix’s Daredevil.
Other ELAC configurations
If your budget has a little extra room up top, but you don’t want to move up to our upgrade system, our recommendation would be to add a second ELAC S10EQ subwoofer (or even upgrade to a pair of the larger S12EQ subs) for enhanced bass performance and more even coverage throughout the room. You might also choose to forego the ELAC subwoofer altogether and upgrade to an even more powerful offering, like the Hsu Research VTF-15H MKBrent recommends as a potential upgrade in his subwoofer buying guide.
For Musicians just setting up new studios it may be best to experiment with a cheaper studio monitor stand to really get a feel for the different monitor bases and the functions they perform. Many of the cheaper studio monitors in our review proved to be extremely durable and of good quality construction.
Neatness and general Appearance
Modern studio monitors are built with a variety of different finishes, designed to suit professional studios, small home studios, studies and even general living spaces. Wood laminate finishes fit nicely into a general home setting or a sleek commercial style studio. Many other stands come in elegant black metal finishes, an elegant, but durable option which may be better suited to your purposes.
Some stands also offer separate cavities, keeping your power and audio cables neat and hidden from view. Other brands such as the DR Pro SMS1BK Studio Monitor Stands are supplied with adhesive cable clips that can be affixed to the back of the stand. Should you have numerous cables and wires snaking around your studio, cable management could be something to consider.
Upgrade Your TV Audio
New TVs are generally thin, which is great for how they look on your wall or in your entertainment center. However, that’s not so good for how they sound. Speakers typically need a lot of space to produce good audio (with a few unique technical exceptions, like expensive and rare electrostatic panel speakers), and there simply isn’t much real estate in really flat televisions. This means that, as nice as the picture looks, your TV’s built-in speakers probably don’t sound too good. You need a separate sound system if you want loud, high-quality audio for your home theater that isn’t thin or tinny. That’s what soundbars are for.
Soundbars are long, usually relatively thin (but still thicker than your HDTV) speakers that incorporate stereo, left/right/center, or even surround sound audio in an easy-to-set-up device you plug into your TV’s HDMI or optical port. They’re add-on sound systems that don’t take up much more space than your TV itself, but add much-needed power, range, and clarity to your audio experience.
As a performing musician you want a PA system that can deliver your sound with clarity and definition. But with so many different pieces of equipment designed for different live performance needs, it can be difficult to know just what it is you should be looking for.
Certainly, there are a lot of variables to consider when choosing a PA. For instance, you’ll need to think about the size of your audience, where your performances will be, how portable you need your system to be and how much money you can invest.
This guide will help walk you through these and other important considerations to help you find the gear that’s right for you, whether you’re buying your first PA system or looking to add equipment to your existing system.
PA Systems in a Nutshell
Different PA equipment will have different capabilities, features, and designs associated with each of these functions. Your specific needs will determine what you want out of each.
Prepackaged PA Systems
If you don’t want to get too deeply into the nuts and bolts of PA equipment, you might want to consider one of our complete, live sound PA system packages that include everything you need to get up and running. If you’re new to PA gear, these systems can help you avoid the problems that can arise from mismatched PA components. And by purchasing bundled gear, you can save a lot of money.
Musician’s Friend carries prepackaged systems from great brands like Yamaha, Fender, Behringer, JBL, Peavey, Mackie, Kustom, and many more—all at the best prices you’ll find anywhere—guaranteed.
The Yamaha EMX5016CF / S115V PA Package with Monitors offers a complete live-sound performance solution with carefully matched components for plug ‘n’ play simplicity.
Musician’s Friend offers hundreds of live sound packages to match a wide range of performance needs and budgets.
All-in-one Modular PA Systems
For solo acts, duos and other smaller groups that play in venues lacking a built-in PA, a modular tower system can be a clean, simple way to get heard with a minimum of fuss. These systems typically house a speaker array, mixer and power amp in a single, column-like structure that breaks down for easy transport. Because the components have been optimized to work with each other and the speaker arrays are designed to generate high-quality, room-filling sound, these systems offer an affordable, portable option to standard PAs.
The JBL EON ONE Linear-Array PA System is an excellent example, delivering robust sound that’s highly intelligible. JBL engineers have created an array that serves up pro-quality sound to every corner of the room. A 10” bass-reflex subwoofer adds the kind of bottom end that can sometimes be a weak spot in similar systems. With its Bluetooth streaming capability, you have the option of going wireless—a great feature for active musicians, instructors, and other presenters who roam the stage or room. The 6-band mixer is simple to use and lets you easily connect all your gear. A parametric EQ section helps you dial in your sound with independent channel volume controls, a master volume and an onboard reverb.
The JBL EON ONE is so portable you can carry the entire PA with a single hand, then set it up in seconds.
With its great sound dispersion. the JBL EON ONE is at home in all kinds of settings.
Other modular PAs to consider include the Bose LCompact System with its two inputs, it’s a solid choice for singer-songwriters. The 800-watt Harbinger MuV MLS800 Line Array PA System houses a 3-channel mixer plus HF drivers and an 8” LF driver for convincing sound in smaller venues. For bigger gigs, multiple units can be daisy-chained.
PA Power Amplifiers
One of the most important questions when it comes to PA systems is “How much power do I need?” This is a consideration when purchasing a power amp for the system.The power amp’s job is to boost the low-level signals coming from the mixer and broadcast them through the speakers. How much power it produces is measured in watts. And you want to make sure you’ve got enough wattage to fill the venue without compromising the sound quality.
Exactly how many watts you need hinges on a number of variables. The most obvious of these is the performance location (room size, indoor/outdoor, acoustics). However, there are additional factors that complicate the issue. For instance, there is the efficiency of the speakers (i.e., how much sound the speakers produce per watt of power). There also is the concept of headroom (how much power it takes to handle peaks without distorting) and the desired volume level of the music.
Using speakers with average sensitivity, a rock band playing in a medium-sized club will need around 1,500 watts total power at a minimum, whereas a pop or jazz group might need between 250-750 watts. For simple folk music in the same venue, that requirement can come down to as little as 60 watts. Keep in mind though that these power estimates are generalizations; difficult performance spaces and music with a lot of dynamics can require considerably more power. As we note below, factoring in plenty of headroom will help ensure great sound when you’re performing in a challenging environment.
The very portable Crown XLS100Power Amplifier delivers 350 watts of clean power at ohms and offers extensive user controls including onboard DSP.
It’s important to buy an amp with plenty of power to drive your speakers plus enough headroom to prevent distortion. When shopping for speakers, you’ll see that they have a power rating, measured in watts. As a general rule, you will probably want an amp with twice the wattage of your speaker’s rated power handling to ensure a clean, undistorted signal gets to them. We will discuss this further when we cover PA speakers and their power requirements.
Keep in mind that a stereo power amp provides two channels, each able to drive its own speaker load. So if your amp provides 500 watts per channel, a pair of speakers rated for 250 watts would be a good fit. Note that the rated output for stereo power amps is usually given on a per-channel basis. A rating of “2x450W” indicates that the amp generates up to 450 watts into each of its stereo channels.
Getting to know the mixer
Learning to use a mixer might initially look like a daunting task, with all the buttons, knobs, and faders. But keep in mind that every channel has the same controls. Once you learn how to control one channel, you’ll know how to control every channel.
Compression and limiting
A compressor as the name suggests compresses the overall dynamics of the audio signal limiting the amount of variation between the loudest and softest sounds.It smooths your sound and protects gear by helping to avoid damage caused by clipping—a speaker-destroying phenomenon resulting from overdriving the amplifier into distortion. Well designed compressors not only prevent signal distortion, but add pleasing sustain to your sound.
The dbx 166xs has both compressor and limiter functions to smooth out live sound by producing tighter mixes and fattening up drum sounds.
A similar tool, the limiter keeps your speakers and ears from getting blown out by limiting the peaks in the music. A limiter allows compression to occur only above a set threshold, and the compression ratio can be very high. This prevents clipping, distortion, and other related problems.
Other common processors
Sonic enhancers such as the BBE Sonic Maximizer give your sound more presence by delaying the low frequencies relative to the higher ones, removing subtle inaccuracies in timing to preserve the sonic characteristics of live instruments.
The BBE 382i Stereo Sonic Maximizer enhances high- and low-frequency to help clarify and add punch to your sound.
There are many other processors that offer a huge selection of sound-shaping options to meet all your effects needs. Browse the huge selection of signal processors at Musician’s Friend.
Maybe it goes without saying, but speakers play a critical role in delivering quality sound to an audience, and it’s an area where quality gear can make a real difference.
As is true for the power amp, the size of the venue you play will help you decide on the power handling (wattage) and size of the speakers needed. For example, smaller gigs, conferences, and lectures may require about 350-500 watts, while club bands, garage bands, and mobile DJs may need 500-1,000 watts, or even more, depending on the venues they perform in.
Weighing in at a hefty 10lb. each, this pair of Yamaha C215V speaker cabinets have dual 15” woofers and compression drivers mounted on horns to handle high frequencies. Best used in permanent installations, they handle up to 1,000 watts of continuous power.
PA Monitor Speakers
Musicians need to be able to hear themselves and other performers clearly to sound their best, which is why stage monitors are essential. While floor monitors can cause feedback and increase the risk of hearing damage, they are preferred over in-ear monitors by many performers because they are easier to use. These usually wedge-shaped speakers allow performers to hear themselves and play better because of it.
The popular Yamaha A12M Floor Monitor has a a 12” woofer, 1” high-frequency horn, and handles 300 watts of continuous power.
Almost every PA system will need mics. With so many types to choose from, you may want to consult the Musician’s Friend Microphone Buying Guide to get familiar with the basics.
There are two major microphone types: dynamic and condenser. Dynamic mics are durable, reliable, and made for onstage use. For vocals you will likely want one similar to the legendary Shure SM58.
The Shure SM5is among the most popular onstage dynamic mics thanks to its bulletproof construction, excellent audio performance, and its versatility in capturing everything from vocals to guitar cabinets.
Condenser mics are made to capture more subtleties, handle high sound pressure levels (SPLs) and capture fast transients. They are usually used for recording, but can also be perfect for live sound. They’re often positioned above drum kits to capture the sound of cymbals. Condenser mics require phantom power, so you will need to ensure that your mixer includes sufficient phantom-powered inputs.
The Blue enCORE 300 Condenser Vocal Mic is designed for highly detailed reproduction of the voice and is built to withstand hand-held use onstage.
To minimize feedback, you also will want a mic that is unidirectional (as opposed to omnidirectional) for vocals and instruments. Unidirectional mics are available with cardioid, supercardioid, and hypercardioid pickup patterns. Cardioid mics are ideal for live sound situations because of their wide, forgiving pattern.
If you decide to use condenser mics in your system, they usually require phantom power, which means the power needed to run the mic must be delivered from another source, usually the mixer or a mic preamp, through the mic cable, or from a separate standalone phantom power device. If you buy a phantom-powered mic, make sure you have a power source available.
Other PA essentials
We highly recommend getting a cable tester. If your system isn’t working correctly, a cable tester can save you hours of troubleshooting. We also recommend that once you find the defective cable, you immediately throw it away rather than putting it in a box to be accidentally used again someday, only to find that it (still) doesn’t work.
You may also want a dB meter; many venues require that you don’t exceed a certain volume level, and a dB meter will let you accurately monitor your volume.
Browse the complete selection of cable testers and dB meters at Musician’s Friend.
If your PA system is not being installed, you’ll need some heavy-duty cases or bags to transport your gear. Well built, durable cases are essential to protect your valuable equipment.
Speaker stands and brackets are another must-have accessory. Make sure to get sturdy, reliable nonskid stands that are strong enough to hold your gear securely. Check out the individual adjustability of each stand and make sure it will get your gear into an optimal position. Read specs to ensure the stands are rated to handle the weight of your speaker cabinets.
Microphone stands are also an essential accessory for most PA rigs. You’ll find a broad range of mic stands designed to position mics for vocalists, instruments, and speaker cabinets. Choose designs with stable bases/tripods that will resist being easily knocked over during performance. Mic stands with adjustable booms allow more flexible placement.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your sound stands wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of sound stands
- №1 — 3.5mm Studio Professional Microphone Mic with Stand For Audio Sound Recording Skype Desktop PC Laptop Notebook
- №2 — AYNOO Microphone Suspension Clip Stands Adjustable Boom Studio Scissor Arm Stand for Compact Mic families
- №3 — SANUS Adjustable Height Speaker Stand – Extends 28″ to 38″ – Holds Satellite & small Bookshelf Speakers