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Lightweight PA/ Female Soloist

Steve Thomas

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Hi, my wife has just secured a 2 gigs a month residency that involves playing to 100-150 people during there evening meal. Unfortunately the venue is up 2 flights of stairs. I'm looking for a nice portable/lightweight PA system that she can carry. We have a nice compact powered mixer and so active or passive would be ok. Her volume will need to travel, but not be excessive and so any advice would be appreciated. I'm thinking either 2 8" speakers and a 12" sub or maybe a Bose L1 type system. Budget up to 2k
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Im assuming that the music will be background light stuff. Therefore you won't really go wrong with a pair of EV's from the sx range or zx3. Or I've no doubt a cheaper speaker will do the job as you're not asking it to provide thumping bass and hear splitting SPLs. Try a pair of passive rcf 3 or 7 series. What wattage is your powered mixer?
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My daughter does a similar type of gig on a weekly basis at a local resuatant (singing to backing tracks, with the volume increasing toward the end of the evening where folks might dance. She also needed a fairly powerful system that she can move herself (from a Ford Ka to the venue) and set up easily with the minimum of hassle.


I got her one of these and it's been absolutely perfect: Samson Expedition 510i.


The benefits we found are:

  • compressor (switchable) on the vocal channels which saves taking everyone's heads off when she sings loud
  • Direct fitment to a speaker stand (unlike the Yamaha Stagepas)
  • Nice reverb built in
  • iPod dock for background music when not performing
  • The (500 Watt) amp fits in the back of one speaker, her mics and XLR lead fits in the other.


I was a little doubtful about how much bass would be produced, but this has not been an issue at all. It's a full, rounded, very HiFi sound, and definitely no need for a sub. Total cost was about £500. The only downside was that the mixer knobs are a bit vulnerable when carrying the thing, so I made a wooden cover, held on with press-studs, to protect them:

(The green spots are the buttons I've told her she has to press in!)





Alternatively, if you really like your existing mixer, I have tried this from FBT and it's awesome: FBT Vertus array and sub. This is beyond Bose in terms of performance as it uses 2 double 8" subs, but is also a little over your budget (about £2,700).


Trust this is helpful,



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Re the Bose L1 system - I have to say these are great for one person shows, a dream to set up and to carry and very high quality BUT they miss some of the middle of a sound out. I have worked a desk for one at a singer's night and they are great for that - i.e. acoustic guitars and vocals - you won't get an easier set up with a quality result.

the PROS -

although I used a set up with a desk, you don't need one, they have their own digital integrated desk.

set up time - I timed my friend set up his - set up time while on the floor (and chatting) something like seven minutes!

crystal clear highs - works well for female vocals particularly. (don't forget to set up mic off axis as instructions for feedback rejection.

portability - simply can't be beaten, there are no lighter systems on the market. aforesaid friend takes his out to corfu for the summer season in the back of his car. if you are only carrying this and a mic

the CONS -

the middle is subdued or absent (hard to tell with singer's nights!), if you are working to backing tapes, it's worth getting a demo to see what you think of the sound, no one who sells should refuse a demo - after all it takes less than ten minutes to set up!

this kit is delicate and expensive to repair. particularly watch the locking pins on the column which are prone to break - check out the 4 pin system on the LD version.

if you use more than one mic, then mic placement can become an issue - worth carrying a tight pattern mic in your pack for those places where you need a second mic in an unfortunate position or you can't position your primary mic in a decent position - but don't overthink this, it's an issue but not a major one.


not a pro or a con but worth noting that set correctly the column sits behind and to the left or right shoulder of the singer. the singer can hear everything - and I mean everything - partly because this is a quality system and mostly (I think) because the speakers are behind you, acting as both monitor and PA. the combination of both, giving clarity and audibility you dont usually get (unless you use in ear monitors) - because it is highly audible it feels weird to sing infront of, until you get used to it.


consider the alternatives too, LD and HK both make similar systems though I have no personal experience of either.


Also got to say. love Pete's post, (and the price tag) and trust his judgement (cool woodwork skills too Pete) so don't get too blinded by the flash bose and hk products!

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