The BishopSound Practical Guide To Live PA and Sound Reinforcement - Introduction

by Andrew Bishop

Welcome to this practical, multi-chapter guide to the art and science of Live PA and Sound Reinforcement. Our overall ambition is to give you access to the information and practical knowledge that will allow you to come to the best decisions for you, your band or DJ rig and your audience - not only when you buy PA equipment for yourself, but also when you use your gear at a live gig, running the PA either as a member of a band, a DJ, a fitness/dance instructor, a worship leader or as a sound system, front of house (FOH) or monitor sound engineer.

Over the coming months we’ll be building this guide into a comprehensive web resource for the benefit of everybody, whether or not you are already a BishopSound user, are considering the purchase of one or more of our products, are an experienced sound engineer or are looking for tips and information that will help you to improve the sound at your live gigs.

The various chapters in this guide will look at both the technical and operational aspects of different types of PA loudspeakers, amplifiers, mixing desks, microphones, effects, accessories and their practical applications in real-world live PA and sound reinforcement situations, be it in a pub, a club, a house of worship, a concert hall or a festival stage. We’re not going to take you through a step-by-step journey from the basics of sound reinforcements up to advanced concepts that will only be of use to a handful of superbly technical sound engineers. What we are going to do is to lead you all carefully through the maze of speakers, amps, mixers, mics, FX and accessories that you’re going to need for the various types of venues and kinds of audiences that you’ll find yourselves working in as gigging solo artists, duo or band members, DJs, fitness/dance instructors, worship leaders or as their sound engineers.

Later in this series, we’ll also be taking a look at the world of corporate presentations and product launches for those of you who are active in these areas.

As far as the gear itself goes, over the coming months we’ll be looking at everything from portable all-in-one PA systems, through single and multiple loudspeaker solutions of varying sizes, all the way up to small-to-medium sized line arrays that are more than capable of handling large concert halls and outdoor festival stages with ease. Alongside these, we’ll be explaining the various types of amplifiers involved, from conventional low and high-power Class AB transistor amplifiers to the latest Class D and Class G “digital” PWM amplifiers that can pack a huge amount of output power into lightweight form factors.

When it comes to mixers, we’ll consider the advantages and disadvantages both of staying absolutely analog and of going digital in a performing environment. Nowadays, digital technology is almost ubiquitous in FX units and there is a bewildering array of pedal and rackmount variants of delays, reverbs and other, more esoteric, effects out there that we’ll gently guide you through as time goes by. On top of all these, although there are more PA accessories available than we’ll ever be able to get into, there are those that are essential, some that are really, really useful, and others that are rather nice to have - and we’ll work through them all as we go along.

Having said all that, the relentless march of technology and progress means that very few loudspeaker, amplifier, mixing console, microphone, effects or accessory manufacturers keep exactly the same product range from year to year, so no doubt there’ll be a regular supply of new outstanding products to add to each of those categories, and we’ll continuously be revising the relevant chapters in order to reflect any great new products and/or emerging technologies.

But that’s not all! We want you to become involved in the development of this guide into a truly practical and relevant web resource, not only by suggesting topics that you’d like to see covered, but also, and more importantly, by sending us photographs or videos of you and your PA being used in situ for us to use in this guide and elsewhere on our website and social media. We’ll love it if you’re using our loudspeakers and amplification in your photographs and videos, but that is not a requirement.