Wireless PA System Buying Guide

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Wireless PA System Buying Guide

PA systems are found in a wide variety of public environments. They play a key role in providing information and instructions to members of the public, be they school pupils, theatre patrons, music lovers, or railway passengers. PA systems can be infinitely expandable with additional, external features, or they can be portable, self-contained units small enough to be carried by hand.
This guide will be looking at a specific type of smaller PA system; more specifically, wireless PA systems, which eliminate the need for cabling and mains power supply, and offer the most portable and versatile voice amplification product available.
Wireless PA systems can offer many unique benefits, but they are also characterised by some important limitations to their use. This guide will highlight both the benefits and the negative aspects of selecting a wireless system for any public event or environment.
The final section of the guide will offer a step-by-step explanation for shopping online. Web-based retailers are able to offer a wider range of product options and discounted prices by selling over the internet. This final section will explain how to find the perfect PA system at the best prices.

What Is a PA System?

A PA system is an audio processing device which amplifies an input signal and relays it via one or more loudspeakers. PA is an abbreviation of Personal Address, and the primary function of any PA system is to provide an audio message or performance to the general public at a level that can be heard over any background noise.
In its simplest form, a PA system will provide a microphone for input, an amplifier, and a speaker for output. This basic set-up is infinitely expandable, however, with additional microphones, media players, mixing desks, and speaker arrays all being optional additions to a PA system.

Using a Wireless PA System

While every PA system is able to provide a complete solution for voice amplification requirements, a wireless device is able to offer a further level of adaptability and convenience. A unit which does not rely on a mains power supply can be re-positioned at short notice, while an operator who does not have to maintain a close proximity to the mixing desk is able to utilise the full area of a stage during presentations and performances or is free to tour exhibitions and events while continuing to address an audience.
At the same time, it is important to note that some of the most basic limitations of a wireless unit may make it an impractical choice for some environments. These can include both the power supply lifespan and the transmission limitations as well as the possibility of audio interference from external devices.
A wireless PA system is the most beneficial and practical solution whenever an operator requires voice amplification but maintaining a close proximity to an audio mixer or amplification unit is nevertheless impractical. The following table presents some environments which may find the benefits of a wireless PA system the most useful.

Speeches, Lectures, and Presentations:

Often, PA systems are only required for making presentations, giving lectures, and holding discussions, such as in an academic or professional situation. In these environments, it is unlikely that the audience will be generating any loud sounds to compete with, so a basic amplification unit may be the only requirement. However, the modern corporate presentation is a multimedia event, which incorporates visual elements as well as spoken words. Sometimes a presenter will wish to step out of the direct line of sight while continuing to commentate on a video or digital slide show presentation, for example.

The ability to receive multiple microphone inputs will be of use in events where more than one presenter is speaking, or when many people are engaged in a discussion. A large auditorium will require a larger number of loudspeakers to broadcast the output more evenly throughout the hall.

Public Information and Announcements:

PA systems that are used primarily for information and announcements may be found in any number of public areas, including department stores, railway stations, and hotel lobbies. They are also ideal for communicating with crowds at outdoors events, such as school and village fêtes, and agricultural shows.

For events held outdoors, a microphone with a powerful transmitter will allow the operator to travel large distances away from the PA receiver. A transmitter which can operate above distances of 100 feet will provide increased mobility and allow the speaker to access a greater area of the event while continuing to broadcast. A large number of loudspeakers will be necessary to allow members of the public to hear important messages from any location. In environments such as public transport stations or outdoors events where there is a high level of background ambient noise, traditional cabinet speakers are frequently replaced with horn loudspeakers. The shape of horn loudspeakers naturally increases the volume of the audio output, allowing it to be heard over any competing noises or ambient sound. Horn loudspeakers can provide excellent increased amplification without resorting to a higher wattage system. This can be useful in a wireless system, where a more powerful amplifier will drain power supplies more rapidly

Live Music:

Vocalists in live music bands will usually own a PA system as they will rely on having some form of voice amplification during rehearsals. A PA system will allow the singer to be heard over the drums and any other amplified instruments such as electric guitars. A PA system for live music will have a specific set of functions, regardless of whether it is owned by an individual performer, or a music venue.

A vocalist in a band may put on an exuberant and energetic performance and likely does not wish to be anchored to a microphone stand. A wireless microphone attached to a PA unit will provide the performer with full mobility. A musician is focused on the sound quality of the audio output more than any other potential customer. This will play a part in determining the system which is most appropriate for the task. Larger, and multiple, loudspeakers provide a richer sound and flexibility and will provide a wider frequency response. A high-quality wireless dynamic microphone will allow a performer the freedom to move without the fear of damaging fragile equipment and will provide an in-built resistance to the effects of feedback, which may otherwise occur if a performer moves too close to an amplifier or floor monitor.

Key Functions

How a PA system is able to manage and provide for the previously-listed requirements is a matter of which features it has on offer. To ensure that each requirement is met, first of all consider the demands of the venue or event from the previous table, and then cross-reference that information with the specifications chart below. This chart identifies and explains some of the key features of a wireless PA system.

Wireless Microphone and Transmitter:

A wireless microphone allows the operator or speaker to move freely while broadcasting. The range of wireless microphones varies considerably from very short range to several hundred feet. Microphones utilise a transmitter, which sends the audio signal to a receiver, which is connected directly to an amplification unit. Transmitters are either built into the microphone, or contained in a hands-free pack, which may be carried by the operator as they move. Transmitters require a power source and are typically powered with standard batteries. The energy efficiency of a transmitter may be a determining factor for anybody intending to use the system for extended periods without a break. One of the most important components of any wireless unit, the transmitter must be reliable and free of errors. A transmitter which suffers intermittent faults and drop-outs or which can be adversely affected by interference from other communications devices, cannot be relied upon to deliver the right results when needed.

Receiver:

A receiver is a powered unit which picks up the audio signal of the microphone and sends it on to the PA amplifier. Receivers may be connected to an amplifier or, in small portable units, may be integrated into a single unit alongside the amp and a speaker.

Amplification:

Amplifiers are powered devices which boost the output gain of an audio signal. The amplification power of a unit is measured in Watts (W). A small area with a quiet, limited audience (for example, a school class room) may require a 20W amplifier. A vocalist performing with a band in large music venues may require several thousand Watts of combined amplification. Some PA systems advertised as wireless refer only to the wireless capabilities of the microphone, and the amplifier will still need to be connected to a mains power supply. Other amplifiers can be powered with battery packs or standard commercial batteries. If portability is a key requirement, then this feature must be assessed before purchase. Similarly, an amplifier can rapidly drain a power pack. If prolonged use is designed, the lifespan must be confirmed as suitable to prevent a loss of power during use. Many wireless PA systems are designed to be portable devices and integrate the amplifier, mixer, receiver, and speaker into a single, lightweight unit.

Mixer:

The audio mixer allows multiple input channels to be blended into a single output signal. A mixer requires a separate channel for each individual source of audio. For example, two speakers with separate microphones and a media player providing background music would require at least three input channels.

Loudspeakers:

Loudspeakers are the PA system's output devices. They play the audio that the public will hear. In smaller units, a single loudspeaker may be incorporated into a compact PA system, along with the receiver, amp and mixer. Larger systems will have free-standing speakers. Speakers are measured by the diameter of the speaker cone. A larger speaker is better equipped at handling low frequency sound. This is of prime importance to musical performers, but less significant for spoken word presentations. It may be possible to save costs by opting for smaller speakers if frequency range is not a primary concern.

Finding Wireless PA Systems on eBay

Buying electrical goods online offers the widest range of items, the most cost-effective method of purchasing, and complete confidence in customer care. eBay, the online marketplace, offers one of the widest ranges of goods on the internet. Wireless PA systems can be found in several categories on the website, such as Performance & DJ Equipment, Home Audio & HiFi Separates, and Other Sound & Vision.
The Pro Audio Equipment and the Other Pro Audio Equipment categories will provide musicians with a selection of wireless PA systems which cater for the unique requirements of a musical performance.

Conclusion

Wireless PA systems are an ideal solution for any presentations and performances where mobility is a factor. From an inspired corporate presentation to an energetic concert, a wireless device opens up a new element of motion and versatility to any event. This guide has provided several points of consideration, which should be of assistance to potential customers whatever their needs.

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