How to buy the best outdoor PA system

October 7th, 2021

Writing by Winbridge Team

Outdoor PA systems are highly suitable for an outdoor environment. They are resilient and can be operated under any weather condition since most of them are weatherproof. Outdoor PA systems help in amplifying music and voice over a wide area. With outdoor PA systems, you can conveniently communicate with a large crowd of people. In this article, you shall learn the different outdoor PA systems you can find in the market.
For beginners, you will understand the working principle of Outdoor PA systems and the secret behind this potent sound equipment. Have you bought an outdoor PA system that ended up ruining your event because your guest could barely hear the sound it projected? What do you think was the likely cause?
We shall take you into the world of outdoor PA systems and explain everything you should know about them. It is highly critical to know about the components of an outdoor PA system before buying one. We shall dissect the outdoor PA system into its core components and explain the functions of the individual parts, so you will better understand how an outdoor PA system works.
Are you interested in buying a super-quality outdoor PA system for your outdoor event? You have to consider certain critical factors to enable you to buy the best outdoor PA system. We shall discuss these factors in detail to be better equipped when shopping for an outdoor PA system. We shall also review the top ten Outdoor PA systems you can find in the market. We will also extensively discuss the features of these products and highlight reasons why they make our list of the top ten outdoor PA systems.
It is not enough to buy a quality outdoor PA system without knowing how to give the maximum output. As you read on, you will get to find out the best way to set up your outdoor PA system to achieve the best sound results. What other equipment can you use together with an outdoor PA system to amplify sound in an outdoor environment, or does an outdoor PA system work as a stand-alone system? You shall get to find out as you read on. One critical aspect we shall discuss in this article is how you can troubleshoot likely faults in your outdoor PA system.
You shall also get to find answers to frequently asked questions about outdoor PA systems. At the end of this article, you would have gained good knowledge about outdoor PA systems. Are you ready to brighten your horizon about outdoor PA systems? Then join us as we take you on a journey to the world of this essential sound equipment.

Factors to consider when buying outdoor PA systems

Buying an outdoor PA system is excellent, especially if you know what you want. It is essential to do proper research before purchasing an outdoor PA system because the functionality of this equipment could make or mar the success of your outdoor event. Now that you understand an outdoor PA system’s working principle and are set to shop for one let us highlight those critical factors you have to consider before buying outdoor PA systems.
● Power requirement
You will be shooting yourself in the foot if you purchase an outdoor PA system without having an idea of the power requirement based on the size of your audience. You may require PA systems with a higher power rating for larger venues than venues with less audience. It is advisable to buy outdoor PA systems based on the amplifier wattage and amplifier itself. Aside from the venue or audience size, there is need to also consider the physical environment where you will place the outdoor PA system.

Physical conditions such as sound reflection can cause a reduction in the volume, which automatically means that you may require an outdoor PA system with more wattage. Your best bet should be to buy an outdoor PA system with a power rating that is slightly higher than your actual requirement. The wattage allowance gives your outdoor PA system a better sound than using an outdoor PA system with very close wattage to the required power.
● The purpose your outdoor PA system will serve
One other critical factor to consider before buying an outdoor PA system is the purpose or the primary reason for purchasing one. If you need an outdoor PA system to amplify both speech and music, you may need an outdoor PA system with additional capabilities. To amplify music, you need an outdoor PA system that covers less speech and more audio frequencies.

It is vital to buy an outdoor PA system that can reproduce sound in high, middle and low audio spectrum range. If music reproduction is your primary purpose for purchasing an outdoor PA system, you need an outdoor PA system with a higher wattage. The power rating for music is more than speech because music has a much broader frequency spectrum than speech.

● Outdoor PA system portability
The portability of your outdoor PA system can help to save cost, especially if it would be required for using multiple Venues. When shopping for an outdoor PA system that will be used across different venues, you should consider buying one with a compact case, wheels, and handles.

These features are essential for moving heavier outdoor PA systems. The mobility of the speaker or presenter will also determine the type of outdoor PA system to purchase. If the speakers need to be moving, you should consider buying a wireless microphone or hands-free outdoor PA system. In cases where there is no AC power around your outdoor location, then a battery-powered outdoor PA system may be considered.

Types of outdoor PA systems and when to use them

Are you planning your outdoor event and thinking about what type of outdoor PA system is most suitable for your event? Here are the two standard outdoor PA systems and the best time to use them.
Constant voltage outdoor PA system
The constant voltage outdoor PA system is also described as the high voltage audio system or the 100Volts line speaker system. One common feature of this outdoor PA system is that it utilizes a step-down transformer for the speakers and a step-up transformer on the output of the amplifier. Constant voltage outdoor PA systems with horn speakers are preferred to distribute sound over a wider area.
The flared acoustic horn and compression drivers help in directing the sound. Horn type speakers, though old-fashioned, produces sounds that are ten times more efficient than the use of cone loudspeakers. Since horn speakers are cheaper, lightweight and compact, they are easier to rig on poles and stands for efficient sound projection. Constant voltage outdoor PA system or high impedance systems allows for thinner speaker cables than outdoor PA systems with low impedance.
Although this may seem trivial, running thousands of speakers’ cables across a wide area may be difficult and expensive. There are lots of advantages of using constant voltage outdoor PA systems. However, it still has its drawbacks. The constant voltage or 100 voltage line outdoor PA system may not be suitable for live outdoor music. Their loudspeakers can only accommodate 100Hz to10KHz frequencies, which means you may miss out on some treble and bass frequencies.
The constant voltage outdoor PA system may be more suitable for making announcements like church fetes, air shows, fun runs, country shows or any event that may require an announcer talking to a crowd. The 100 Voltage line outdoor PA system may be suitable for playing background music but not when music is the event’s primary purpose.
Low Impedance outdoor PA system
Low impedance outdoor PA systems are the more conventional outdoor PA systems. They are designed with a large cone that is responsible for playing sounds of lower frequency. They also have a horn and compression driver for high sound frequencies. They produce sounds with full range frequencies, which makes them a better choice for live musical performance. Low impedance outdoor PA systems can also be used with additional enclosures to enable them to produce sub-bass.
Some low impedance outdoor PA systems are weatherproof, which makes them suitable for outdoor events. You can also use protective coverings to cover the speakers from weather elements with minimal effect on the sound produced. As highly efficient as they may seem, they still have some flaws. Unlike the constant voltage outdoor PA system with directional frequencies, low impedance outdoor PA systems have radial frequencies that radiate to every direction. Some frequencies can get lost, thereby leaving people behind the low impedance outdoor PA system to only bass.

What are the components of an outdoor PA system?

An outdoor PA system helps to amplify sound for crowds, whether large or small. It makes it more convenient for the audience to understand what is being addressed by a speaker or whatever sound is projected. Here are the components of an outdoor PA system:
● Loudspeaker
The primary function is to aid the conversion of electrical energy into audible moving air or acoustic energy. Several loudspeakers may require you to pair them using subwoofers to reduce an audio source’s lower frequency range. Subwoofers are highly efficient in larger outdoor venues where loudspeakers alone may not reproduce sounds with low frequency adequately.

● Mixer
An outdoor PA system also has a mixer that receives audio signal sources from instruments, microphones, etc. and combines them before sending them out to a single output. The signal is then sent to a power amplifier. Although a mixer may not be required in all situations, it may be beneficial when there is a need to adjust volumes of multiple devices in a single machine.

● Power Amplifier
A power amplifier is another primary component of an outdoor PA system. It receives incoming audio signals and amplifies or increases their power to be correctly projected through the speakers. The amplifier power of an outdoor PA system is measured in watts. The levels you can get with your outdoor PA system increases with power wattage. However, your outdoor PA speakers should be able to power wattage from your outdoor PA system amplifier.

● Microphones
Microphones make up the basic components of an outdoor PA system amplifier. Microphones help in converting acoustical energy like instruments and voices into electrical energy. The electrical energy is transferred to the input of the mixers or speakers.

Although all the components of an outdoor PA system determine sound quality, the quality of an outdoor PA system’s microphones is essential since the audio source feeds it to the instruments players or vocalist. High-quality microphones permit more movements and minimize stage clutter. It is advisable to use wireless microphones for live sound performances.

● Microphone stands
Like the microphones, microphone stands are part of an outdoor PA system essential components. It helps to hold the microphone in place. The boom and straight microphone stands are the two common types of microphone stands. The boom mic stands allow positioning the microphone away from the stand if the stand obstructs any object close to it.

● Signal Processors
An outdoor PA system has signal Processors that alters an instrument or microphone audio signal to improve quality. Limiters, compressors, and equalizers are examples of signal Processors.

● Cables
An outdoor PA system essential components cannot be complete without mentioning cables. They are the veins of your outdoor PA system. They make it possible for you to connect all other components of an outdoor PA system.

Which of the two types of outdoor PA systems should you use for your event?

Earlier, we discussed the advantages and drawbacks of the two types of outdoor PA systems. One other disadvantage of using low impedance outdoor PA systems is that they may produce disturbing sound over a wide area. The use of speaker cables with long lengths and bigger connectors may be impractical and expensive. Distributing the audio at the line level may require you to provide amplifier power at each location of the speakers. However, low impedance outdoor PA systems have several outstanding benefits, which we have earlier discussed.
The question is, which of these two types of outdoor PA systems should you use for your outdoor event? Both types of outdoor PA systems are best suited for their specific purposes. Your choice of outdoor PA system depends on the scope and size of the venue. It also depends on the primary purpose of using the outdoor PA system. Most people are faced with the challenge of getting a full range outdoor PA system because of the band playing at their outdoor event. However, it may be okay to make use of two separate outdoor PA systems for this purpose.
It would not be suitable for the sound from your band to be blasted across the entire venue. The solution may be to have a local full range outdoor PA system for your band long with a constant voltage speaker distributed around your venue to make announcements. Combining both types of outdoor PA systems may be a great choice if you would be playing music and making announcements during your event.
However, it is also essential to consider other factors such as power requirements, physical environment, and more when purchasing an outdoor PA system. Using the most appropriate type of outdoor PA system for your event can go a long way to determine the success of that event, so do choose wisely.

How do price and future expansion affect your choice of an outdoor PA system

Your choice of outdoor PA system may also depend on the potential for future expansion of your outdoor PA system. Except you need an outdoor PA system for the same specific purpose at all times, there may be a need to consider buying an outdoor PA system that can accommodate expansion as your needs grow.
The use of an expandable outdoor PA system that can eliminate the need of purchasing additional outdoor PA systems in the future should be considered because it is budget-friendly. Aside from the cost implications, buying an expandable outdoor PA system is excellent for companies in sound production. It is also perfect for worship centres, schools, etc., that may require a sound reinforcement system, fitting several applications. There are several ways of expanding your outdoor PA systems. You can do this by adding speaker stands, additional cables, companion speakers or microphones.
When shopping for an outdoor PA system with the mindset of expanding your venue size in the future, you should consider buying one that has multiple jacks and inputs. An expandable outdoor PA system should have additional output to accommodate both passive and active speakers. You may also require a line output for attaching your recording devices, including portable digital recorders.
Your outdoor PA system may also need to have a line input to connect your media player if you need multimedia or other musical presentation. In general, your prepackaged outdoor PA system should have essentials such as cables, mic stands, and speaker stands. However, you should consider having extras, especially if you may need to add speakers or microphones to your outdoor PA system in the future.
Let us now consider the price aspect and how it affects your choice of an outdoor PA system. The power of the outdoor PA system and the available features play a significant role in determining the cost of the outdoor PA system. The better the sound quality of the outdoor PA system, the higher may be the price.
Outdoor PA systems made using advanced engineering components reduce the weight of the systems without compromising their efficiency. These types of outdoor PA systems tend to be more expensive than less sophisticated outdoor PA systems. Before purchasing an outdoor PA system, it may be wise to evaluate your specific needs so you won’t end up buying an outdoor PA system with features you may not use.

Steps to set up your outdoor PA system

Have you attended a great and memorable outdoor concert but never noticed the outdoor PA system? One possible reason you never noticed the outdoor PA system might be because you enjoyed the show; otherwise, if the sound was awful, you might have noticed the outdoor PA system. The way you set up an outdoor PA system can significantly affect a performance outcome. A professional outdoor PA system arrangement differs from that done by an amateur. Here are the steps to take if you want professionally set up an outdoor PA system.
Step 1- Prepare in Advance
The first step to take when setting up an outdoor PA system is to prepare yourself for what you should expect. Inspect the venue to know if you have the right equipment. It is also essential to know the event type. Is it a presentation or a speech? Both event types may require different outdoor PA system arrangements and differ from a theatrical or musical performance. It is also advisable to arrive early on the event date to know if there are any changes at the last minute. There may be a need to cover the outdoor PA system with tarpaulins or level speakers placed on uneven ground. You can also save time by hiring people to help you prepare if the setup.
Step 2- Place the hardware first
Placing hardware first will help you set up your outdoor PA set up without having to trip through wires. Endeavour to place all equipment in its proper position. If the outdoor stage is small, you should consider placing bigger speakers on the right and left sides of the stage. If you want optimal sound projection, elevating the speakers and turning them slightly towards the centre of the stage may be the best option. Before you begin the setup, be sure to know all the equipment to avoid being confused over any slight variation.
Step 3- Correctly position the speakers and check the monitor system.
Ensure you correctly position the speakers when setting up an outdoor PA system. The speakers should be placed far apart to prevent sound transmission delays. It may cause you to hear sounds some seconds after a speaker talks. The audience may experience annoying echoes, which may cause them to become disinterested quickly. You also have to consider the wind direction. It is best to place the speakers upwind to avoid the wind blowing the sounds around. Ensure you have a powerful monitor system that is capable of catering to the speakers’ demands.
Step 4- Set up the mixing desk and ensure the sound is not too loud
Ensure you place the desk at the centre of the outdoor venue or place it on either side of the stage. You may consider choosing a low-tech mixing desk if you are not sure of the weather. It is also vital to check the speaker’s loudness to ensure it is comfortable for your listeners. You can make use of a sound level meter or spectrum analyzer to equalize and test the sound. Finally, ensure you carry out a thorough check after setup to be sure everything is fine.

Frequently Asked Questions about Outdoor PA Systems

Here are some frequently asked questions about outdoor PA systems:
● Do I require an amplifier with my outdoor PA system?
You will always require an amplifier with your outdoor PA system. The question should be, do you need an independent amplifier? Most modern outdoor PA system manufacturers have moved the amplifier component to the speakers or PA mixer in their outdoor PA system. You may not require a separate amplifier, but you need to ensure that the amplifier component of your outdoor PA system meets the correct requirement.

● How much power wattage do I require for my outdoor PA system?
The wattage requirement of your outdoor PA system depends on several factors. The size of the venue, the physical environment, etc., may determine the amount of wattage you may need for your outdoor PA system. As a minimum, you may require 10Wper guest if you are having a sufficiently loud outdoor event. For a very loud outdoor PA system, 20W per guest may be sufficient.

● Do I require a PA mixer
Your outdoor PA sound source should typically come from a Dj mixer, DJ sound card, or controller. The signal from these devices is a line signal which is preamplified directly into the amplifier of your outdoor PA system. You may not require a PA mixer since you can connect the controller directly to an outdoor PA system power amplifier.

For mobile DJs, you may want a small additional mixer in some situations. In many other cases like weddings, you may require more than one microphone or any other audio source to be amplified. In such cases, you may make di with a basic outdoor PA mixer. One of the main perks of a PA mixer is that it allows you to set the equalizer of your Dj controller the way you want and carry out sound checks on the venue.

Common outdoor PA system faults and how to fix them

A standard outdoor PA system is designed to perform optimally. However, like every machine, it may malfunction at some point. Here are some of the most common outdoor PA system faults and how you can fix them.
● Loosely connected or unplug signal leads
You may experience an interruption of the signal paths when the signal lead is not properly connected to a channel processor. If your outdoor PA system uses radio signals such as ear monitors, the receiver and transmitter should be set to a similar frequency. Use a number or colour scheme to identify signal leads to enable you to know where each signal leads connects.

● Unpowered outdoor PA system
One common outdoor PA issue is when the equipment does not power on. The likely faults could be due to disconnected power cables, flat batteries, or it may be that the power source is switched off. You can try to fix the issue by replacing the power fuse.

● Muted outdoor PA system
When your outdoor PA system does not produce any sound, it could be that you may have accidentally muted the outdoor PA system by pressing the Mute button. To fix this issue, try pressing the Mute button to unmute the outdoor PA system to allow the continuous flow of signals.

It would help if you were careful with the mute Carrying an extra amplifier as an emergency measure is ideal, but not always possible. It is, therefore, essential to know the specifications of the amplifiers to be able to reconfigure a faulty amplifier with different combinations of speakers. Understanding the load that speakers have on amplifiers and how the load is measured is essential.

● The gain or loudness level is too low
The loudness level sent to the outdoor PA system amplifier or plugging is referred to as the gain. The gain is the clips input level, while the volume is the output level. The primary cause of this issue may be due to muted channels, main faders or groups. It may also be that outdoor PA system power amplifiers are turned down. To fix this issue, ensure that the channels, main faders or group are not muted. You should also make sure that you turn on the outdoor PS system amplifier.

● Faulty outdoor PA system cables
Faulty cables is a shared outdoor PA system problem. It may cause the monitor system and half of the outdoor PA system speakers not to work. The fault may be due to broken or improperly connected cables. Change the cables and endeavour to use quality cables. Broken outdoor PA system amplifiers

Insufficient voltage power supply may cause broken outdoor PA system amplifiers. A blown a fuse or short circuit are other reasons for outdoor PA system amplifiers to be damaged. It is advisable to know your outdoor PA system amplifier specification to help reconfigure a broken amplifier using different speaker combinations. You should know the maximum load that your outdoor PA speakers can accommodate for the amplifier’s wattage.

Conclusion

It is critical to consider several factors such as power requirement, the purpose of the outdoor PA system, venue and more before buying an outdoor PA system.
We at Windbridge are obsessed with quality sounds and also specialize in providing the best sound equipments. We have high-quality outdoor PA systems that are guaranteed to offer you durability and high efficiency at the best price. You can find the best PA systems here that suits you need. Now that you know all you need to have the best PA system, you can easily find a good PA system perfect for your events from our wide array of products.

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