Sound Budget Reccomendations


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My school has just alotted me $1100 for SOUND EQUIPMENT ONLY (specific budget request), and I would like to purchase a DriveRack PA with the remaining part of the budget that is left (i know the price, and it will fit in the budget). I would like to know, of those who have used this specific unit, how easy the user interface is to learn, how well does the auto-equalization work, etc. I will also be purchasing the RTA mic with it.

Also, what is the best vocal mic that you can get for about $33? (we'll be getting 3 of them). Our current choice is the 3-pack of Sennheiser E-815S mics.

Final question: best stick condenser for around $100? The current pick is the A-T Pro 37.
Please tell us about your current system. From what you've said, it sounds like you're going out and buying a lot of inexpensive gear just because you have the budget to do so. You should look at what you use the system for, what problems you have with it now, and what you want to be able to do with it that you can't currently.

A few more specific questions:
-How many channels of wireless do you have, and do you need any more?
-Do you have an EQ and compressor, at least for the mix if not for individual channels?
-How many vocal mics do you have, and why (if at all) do you need more?
-Do you need more cables and/or adaptors?
-Why exactly do you want to get the items you've mentioned above?
-Finally, where will you be purchasing your gear from?
We have plenty of wireless, and we don't use what we have that often.

We have one working vocal mic.

We have 3 behringer vocal mics that are overly prone to feedback, and don't work with our acoustically challenged room.

We have a graphic and a comp/limiter/gate for the mains, and a graphic for the stage fills. We have a 16ch mixer (soundcraft spirit 8) and we have almost no adapters, and very few mic lines.

The school has almost told me that we have to have a number of mics on the budget. The stick condensers are for recording the band and chorus. The SM-57's will be used for just about everything. The other vocal mics will be used for chorus, band, and anything that needs them. We hold a number of public meetings every year in the auditorium, as it is the best large-capacity room in the county, so the SM-57's are almost required here.

This would also allow the compressor/limiter/gate (DBX 166XL) to be used for individual channels or for the monitor fill outputs, as well as the events that require a portable system.

So, I'm basically building a small mic selection from the ground up, as well as providing much needed adapters (they always have to use my adapter library, and I'm leaving after this year). I'm also adding much needed processing to our rack, which needs to be able to have more comp/gate/eq capability.

So, basically, I'd like to know a little bit more about the acutal use of the DriveRack (beyond me reading the manual twice or three times over), as well as any alternative options to my microphone selections.

I will be ordering gear from Northern Sound and Light as well as Musican's Friend, which both accept institutional purchase orders. NSL has the cheapest prices on high end gear that I've found yet. Under $400 on the DriveRack PA. Under $75 on the SM-57. But they aren't allowed to quote those prices directly on their site, you have to actually go get a quote from them.
So basically, if we already had it (as in halfway decent wireless), I wouldn't be spending county budget money on it.
From what I get, you have a working PA that you want to add a driverack to??? It seems more reasonable to spend money on equipment you don't have like mic's rather then upgrades in your outboard. Any mic that cost 33 is going to be prone to feedback. Maybe try to find some decent used one's. The driverack pa has 2 in and 6 out. Unless you were running a mono, bi or tri amped house, and single monitor mix (which I doubt you are), I wouldn't think about poking it with a stick. Start with decent mic's and cables and then upgrade your outboard.
From what you've told us, I would take the DriveRack off the list right now. In its place, I would purchase 4-6 SM-58's, 2 SM-57's, and 2 SM-81's (or PG-81's if the budget doesn't allow for the SM-81's). WIth the remaining money, buy XLR cables and any adaptors that are regularly used.

As far as your dealer: NSL is a great place, but don't think of touching Musician's Friend. Instead, give Full Compass a call (800-356-5844) and dial extension 1116 for Joel Pare. Tell him I sent you.
Yeah, I would definately not buy the DRPA. Since you are using a 166XL for house processing, the DRPA would be a total waste. If you want individual channel compression, buy another compressor for that. You are much better off with more mics, stands, and cables.
I'm going to fall in line and suggest that the purchase of a driverack pa isn't your best choice here. Given the situation you've described, you'd get much more improvement per dollar spent on some new mics and cables. A driverack pa is an improvement for a system that is otherwise complete - either a replacement for the graphs and crossovers in the system, or as an addition for future expansion. At the rate that the system processor market is growing and changing, you're better off purchasing some basics (SM58, SM 57, SM/PG 81) type items (as well as some high quality stands and cables) instead of buying an entry level system processor. The AT Pro 37r are good microphones, don't get me wrong, but they're better at close micing a gtr, dobro, PNO or used as drum overheads than they will be for micing an area or group.

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