From battery-powered portables to monster 3-way systems with multiple subwoofers and refrigerator-sized racks full of power amps, your PA system is a big part of what presents you to the world. PA gear, or "sound-reinforcement equipment," has changed immensely in a short period of time, with new digital technology revolutionizing mixers, power amps and speaker electronics, and material science developing new synthetics that make speaker enclosures smaller, stronger and lighter than ever.
Portable systems range from small-wheeled single speakers with built-in mixers and rechargeable batteries to bi-amplified stereo systems with integrated mixers that snap together for easy transport. These systems are great for street performing, presentations, small coffeehouse gigs, rehearsals and parties. They won't get "rock 'n' roll" loud, but for solo or duo performers and DJs who need to travel light, they get the job done with a minimum amount of hassle.
Mid-sized systems are generally designed to scale up easily, from smaller to larger venues. The introduction of internally bi-amplified (separate amps for low- and high-frequency) cabinets from many different companies made systems smaller, lighter, and easier to use for gigging club musicians, enabling a band to start with a basic system and grow it by adding extra cabinets and powered subwoofers as their careers move forward. Since many power cabinets can also double as floor-wedge or side-fill monitors, an early investment in such a system continues to pay off even when you need to upgrade to full-blown concert-sized sound.
Concert systems, on the other hand, have tended to remain with discrete components for ease of service and the ability to quickly swap out gear should a problem occur under critical live performance conditions. Concert systems, especially for arenas and outdoor venues, will frequently use multiple stacks of speakers fed with delayed signals so that audience coverage can be increased while keeping audio synced across the whole crowd.
Live sound can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it, so it's important to do some serious planning as your system grows. At Guitar Center, our live sound pros can help you put together the system that's exactly right for your present and future needs.