I would like some advise on sound systems/speaker/music player setup please. I am a long ways from being able to play in public but I want to start planning. What are you folks out there using and what do you like?

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i have two different PA set ups:  one for larger venues (but not like a stadium, lol) and one for a "coffee shop" gig.  the bigger of the two has big main, and an amp, but not sure of wattage at present.  the smaller is a fender passport 150 which is the smallest of the series.  it does the trick but the speakers are only 8" and it doesn't have a lot of power.  the larger has 15" speakers and that does great with larger rooms.

What about for outside parties etc? Also what do you use for managing the music?

I use an IPOD for my tracks and i run it through the PA system on "tape in" and then run my mics and keyboard through the amp on channels.  the larger PA is plenty of sound for this.  i sometime mic the pans if i get ambitious. 

Is the iPod or tablet the best athlete here?

i have to defer to others on that one as I've only used a n IPOD.. 

help from others?

Hey Bill I use a little powerew speaker I got at guitar center that you can run an ipod through and a mic for the pan if needed. It only cost $100 and has plenty of power for small rooms.

I am also a long way from playing in public but have spent a number of years singing in nursing homes using backing tracks on cd. I highly recommend the Bose L1 Compact system, it has fantastic sound and its light weight works great in small or large places. you can hook up a microphone and  ipad  or tablet or use a cd player.In my set up I use a dvd player to play my cds The L1 compact doesn't look like it could put out the sound it does but it is amazing and the whole thing only weighs 29 pounds

I am an audio engineer and I have been setting up sound systems for years. It all comes down to how much you want to spend. I do recommend that you mike your steel drums if possible. It sounds better to put your pans in the mix if possible. Also, try not to put your spekers behind you to avoid feedback into the microphone. To answer your question specifically is difficult unless you know how much you want to spend. As Vance already mentioned the Bose L1 speaker system is a good choice, but it is expensive and if you play a big venue outside it might not be enough power. Also, keep in mind that big powerful speakers will not sound as good at low volume and small speakers may not give enough volume. If you decide to use the IPOD you can use something like the Alesis Jamdock. If you want to use SD memory cards you can purchase a DJ control deck. There are many options. I do recommend making the system as compact as possible to make it easy to transport. If you have any other questions please ask.

I used to run the BOSE L1 ststem, which has great sound, but as was mentioned before, is pretty expensive.  

The set up I use now is a Fishman Solo SA 220.  I also have a mixer I run through if I need more than two plug-ins.  Normally, if I am not talking and just playing, I run the pan mic through channel one and the tracks through channel two.  It's AMAZING how much sound this can put out, even without a subwoofer like I had with the BOSE.  The other nice thng is is it designed to be behind you and act as you monitor as well, (Like the BOSE does too) this way you hear exacly what everyone else is hearing.

It now takes about ten/fifteen minutes total to set everything up and get going.  I highly recommend this amp.  Here is a link to the site, it also has a nice video that talks about the amp.

http://www.fishman.com/product/sa220-solo-performance-system

~ Jeff

Thanks for the info - I played another non-paying "gig" this weekend for a couple of hours. just my second time playing in front of a crowd. It is very distracting versus practicing by yourself inside a room!! Anyway I use a 15" Behringer hooked to my laptop and a single mic for the pans. It sounded really good but I could not point the speaker towards me or too loud without getting screeching feedback therefore I couldn't hear the music all that great. I could hear it but I had to concentrate hard. I guess I need a small monitor or something? If I do that I will have to switch to some sort of mixer I suppose? Thanks.

Sorry bout jumping in so late in the game. I use an Alesis transactive. It is portable on wheels, has an iPod slot and can be used cordless. Works great for small personal gigs, like a wedding on the beach or a restaurant. For the larger areas I have a Fender Passport 250. The speakers connect to the amp head for convenience and ease of movement. Easy if your a monster ! It is pretty heavy!  I would like to know how I could connect a monitor to the passport if Marty, Brad or anyone else might know. I don't have the instruction manual and what I found on the interned didn't seem to help. I recently went from the iPod to an iPad. It is nice to have pan height and reference to see where I am in the song (if I'm coming to the end). Luckily I did because my iPod conked out!!!. I would recommend something for a back-up unit. Better safe and profitable than sorry and out of the gig!

I found the Alesis at the music store for about $120, and the Passport on eBay for just around $250 including shipping!!!  The Bose is nice but I can't afford a grand yet!

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