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Amplification? Acoustic Amp or Powered PA Speaker w/small mixer EQ and Reverb?

I recently posted a question about which acoustic amp should be considered (see What's the best acoustic amp for under $500?). I got a few responses, which I appreciated greatly. Thanks to those of you who took the time to respond. I took the advice and went to my local independent guitar shop Huber and Breese (Metro-Detroit, MI)(Sorry Guitar Center. I won't step foot in one) to try several out. The staff was great and did not push me to buy anything, but encouraged me to try several and then thoroughly confused me.

I was looking to buy a stand alone acoustic amp (probably about 50-100W) to play at small venues, because being the novice at these things, that's what I assumed one did. The sales rep said that might be great for me, but also suggested that I look into a powered speaker with a small mixer EQ with reverb. The Mackie Thump TH15A ($349) speaker he showed me, among several others, had considerable more power (400W) and it would be more versatile with multiple instruments and I could add another speaker if I wanted to for stereo.

I am not a touring musician or even a coffeehouse regular, although I do play the occasional one. I teach (elementary not guitar) and play at the school and church at least once a month as well in jam sessions with friends and other musicians. So perhaps the PA might be too much for my needs.

The cost is about the same, maybe even less for the PA speaker/mix option. The portability is better for the stand alone amp. What is most important to me, as I assume is true for you all, is the true acoustic sound I get naturally from my SWD Special unplugged. I have about $500 to spend.

With that said, what's your opinion? Powered PA speaker combined with a mixer with reverb or a stand alone acoustic amp?

Tags: EQ, amplification, amps, mixing

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I have small PA system on acoustic gigs.Two Mackie Thumps 12a and LD systems 8 channel mixer.

I have a GAS on this acoustic amp instead PA system:

http://www.acguitar.com/article/default.aspx?articleid=27462

Is this better than my PA system?

I have an idea to work with this Traynor amp and one active speaker Mackie Thump 12A.Am I wrong,or just stayin` with small PA?

Please,someone with any advice...

   I try to play unplugged as much as possible, even in coffee houses, but I can get pretty loud when I have to, but I have a Troubador 80 amp that I use and it plugs mic and guitar and I have found it to be more than enough for larger venues.  BUT, and here is a big BUT, I find myself inviting ohters to play  with me for certian gigs and wishing I had gotten a PA system, then I could have a couple of mics and instruments, instead of having 3 or 4 amps spread across the stage.  What ever you think you need get something bigger, because down the road you will need it, I would recommend a PA system package that would acommadate at least 6 inputs, thats what I wished I had bought.

This Traynor AM Custom is really unique in the offer of acoustic amps,and that`s the reason of my hesitate and interesting.

This is really kind of small PA,because you can use different effects on each channel,lots of power(225W)...

I need three channels on my performance;guitar,microphone and CD player(sometimes with karaoke background while playing).

I am wondering only,would be that the better option (with one active speaker on "Line out "when it`s needed) than mixer with two active speakers?

Anyone tried this TraynorAM custom 225W amp,flagship of the line,exactly same model?

People have nice experience with Traynor lower models,so I`m very interested in that kind of combination for one-man guitar band.

i think it's a question of convenience or versatility.  i have mackie thump th12a speakers and a mixer for group gigs or larger audiences, but if i'm going alone to a small setting i use a fishman loudbox mini.  If I'm amplifying i don't worry much about sound quality, if it sounds like an acoustic guitar and a voice i'm satisfied.  there's not much point in bringing in two speakers, stands, mixer, guitar, and all the necessary accessories for a small gig.  even if you minimize it all you're still having to carry the mixer and a speaker stand above and beyond, that's a second trip just for those.  

i would suggest something like a loudbox artist.  it has plenty of power, good effects, and good sound quality.  if you need more versatility use it as your powered speaker with a bigger mixer in front of it. 

I use a mini-PA setup - two passive speakers on stands and a rack for the preamp, effects unit and power amp.  It projects well and sounds great.  Versatile too.

I have after 40 years of playing found the perfect solution for coffee houses and even more.  I use a Martin OM28e and a Martin gpcpa1.  I hook into a Fishman Artist, but I took my Fishman mini also.  I put the Artist on a higher stand and then placed the mini below on another smaller stand.  All I can say is WOW!  I play mostly contemporary Christian music, but even for larger venues with their own system I just take my little Fishman mini for my own personal monitor and DI out to the PA system.  Both situations work well.  I purchased a small 4 channel Yamaha mixer and plug in two condenser microphones (Shure Beta).  The entire situation including microphones cost me with cables $1100.00.  With this selection you can do anything you want.  With the Artist elevated and the mini under and the easy set up, I found it better than everything else I have tried.  Just amazing.  God is good!

Great topic! I used to shoot video professionally and had a 26 week cable show on local TV as well. The climax of my show was a performance by a NYC singer / songwriter named Diane Ponzio (http://www.dianeponzio.com/songwriter/howto.htm). Diane is a Martin "Clinician" who travels the globe performing for the company.

I'd connected with Diane through a mutual friend who is heavily involved with theatre, directing, producing and TV in NYC. She told me she knew this performer who wanted to make a music video but there was no $. In turn I suggested that I'd do the video if she would do a live studio performance for my cable show. The deals was struck and as we neared the end of the shows 26 week run we geared up for the performance.

At the time Diane had a drummer and bassist for accompaniment and upon arrival we set the stage for them to play. After wrapping up I was chatting with Diane asking how she amplified her great Martin sound. She said the only way is through a PA system. I was floored because of the advances made in acoustic amplifiers. She said there are definitely some great acoustic amps out there but the most accurate reproduction is through a PA. I won't reiterate what others have said here about why a PA is better.

Now with respect to your particular situation only you (and your budget) can decide what is best for you. I recently purchased the Bose L1, model 2 PA for my band to replace the very good system I already own. The old system is a great one but it has many moving parts and it is heavy. The Bose literally sets up in five minutes vs. forty-five to an hour for the old one. The sound is much better from the Bose and with the Tone Match mixer I get a lot of flexibility.

That purchase was also executed with an eye towards the future. All cover bands dissolve for one reason or another and at my age (64) my current band will be my last. Once this band falls apart I intend on doing a solo or duo acoustic and the Bose fits into that picture as well.

So assess your current and future needs, review your budget and pull the trigger. As another poster said you can always sell what you bought and move to another with a small up charge because you won't get a high dollar return on used equipment. I've just listed my old PA for less than half of what I paid for it. Know anyone looking for a PA? :)
Terry, I went to a bluegrass festival last weekend listening and talking to a lot of musicians and performers about their setup. My personal assessment was that the best acoustic tone was achieved by using a really good microphone sans amplifier straight to the mixer/PA. I watched Ricky Skaggs perform, the whole band was mic'd and the sound was fantastic. There were no issues with out of control howling or feedback, either. A podcast I watch frequently is NPR's Tiny Desk Concert. Most of the acoustic performers use a single mic for vocals and instruments and the sound is remarkably balanced. (I'd like to know what kind/brand of mic is used.)

I recently bought an iRig Pre that allows me to use a condenser mic with phantom power when recording with my iPad. My tests recordings were very satisfying and I know I won't bother with installing any pick up on my Martin HD-28, as the tone comes through just fine, at least to my ears. Hope to get some vids done this week worthy of posting. I'd love to try the Bose L system at some point, but I agree mic and a PA are my choice now. Funny, a friend of mine does sound for a living and he told me that years ago - should've listened to him.
Now that is interesting. Typical complaint about mic'ing on stage is feedback. Plus performers moving too close or too far away from the mic. Even just shifting left or right off the axis of the mic changes the tone. I was recording my friend friend I last week and I had him mic'd while I was plugged in. My L.R. Baggs dual source has a mic and I blend a little of the pickup in as well. As we were recording he shifted in his seat a few times and I had to reset the mic's position because the shift changed the sound quite dramatically. But never the less you are correct mic'ing is the ultimate best way to go. I too would like to know what mic they use. Probably one that neither you or I can afford!

Now about that iRig . . . . I'll msg you.
Yeah, I was surprised by the sound reinforcement at the festival too. There was one particular duo, using a single mic between them for fiddle and guitar, and they sounded really good. No feedback issues at all. The guitarist moved in and out to control the mix, and had no problems.

Ricky Skaggs was close to perfect sound, though his rhythm guitar player's mic cable went bad, so he was lost in the mix. Otherwise, all of the acoustic instruments presented full rich tone. Some less experienced bands did not sound as good, but it wasn't the sound guy's fault. Some of these folks got too close to the mic, and the signal was too hot, so it distorts and vocals become a mumbled mess. I wanted to tell them back off and let the mic do it's' job. There's no need to get closer than a couple of inches to the mic with your lips, never touch lips to a mic, it's just too close. Watch great vocalists and you find they hold the mic about a good fort away.
I like the iRig Pre, but another product caught my attention for mor serious use. Check out this link to the Focusrite iTrack Dock. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/iTrackDock

It has features that are appealing to more home studios using a simple iPad Air.

Guys"  I agree the a complete PA system can sound better than an acoustic amp, but it is also according to the PA.  The new acoustic amps such as the Fishman Artist can sound very clean and went sent out to the PA from the amplifier gives a much more effective sound than most PA systems in the house plus you can use it as your own personal monitor setting it up exactly how you want.  A $545.00 Fishman artist is far cheaper than (2) QSC 10, mixer and cables starting out at about $1500.00.  At a large performance the house should have some kind of quality, but  I have been disappointed, especially with who may be working the board.  Even better yet, if you really want quality get yourself an AER for small gigs and for larger send that out to the house.  Look at what Tommy Emanuel has posted.

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