differnece between "PA system" and "sound system"

I am looking into renting something to amplify the music and voices at my wedding which will be outside. There is no electricity, so it must be battery powered.

I called and the person said a “sound system” has multiple speakers, and a bass and treble adjustment. He also said I cant plug guitars into a sound system.

He said a “PA system” is just a mic and one speaker with no equalizer. He said it would sound tinny.

My question is…I play in a band so we use what I thought were “PA systems” on a regular basis. The PA systems I am used to using have two speakers, multiple inputs (for mics as well as guitars, etc.), and some of them have equalizers.

Whats going on here. I’ve never heard of a PA system w/ only one input…and not only just one input, but the input MUSt be a mic.

Any help?

Sounds like you’re dealing with a small shop. PA stands for Public Address, which covers pretty much any sound system, regardless of configuration, that is intended for area coverage and not individual listening. As an example, this may include any of live instrument, microphone, CD, turntable, DVD or computer sources, microphone or line preamplifiers, crossovers, compressors, gates, limiters, equalizers, digital effects processors, amplifiers and speakers appropriate to the venue. Most PA gear is rugged - components are usually in a standard 19" rackmount format, and speakers are typically plywood with edge protection, as opposed to MDF or other materials that may be used in cabinets that are not intended to be portable.

That was what I thought too. I came into this thread to say something along those lines! Maybe the shop guy was just wrong.

Would it be possible to hire a generator, if you can’t find a suitable battery-powered PA/sound system/whatever you use to broadcast the noise?

I would have thought, just intuitively/subjectively, that a PA system was basically meant for spoken voice reproduction only, which would generally not require the same quality as music (whether vocal or instrumental.) Therefore, a ‘sound system’ would by elimination be of sufficient quality to handle music, at least a little better.

The preceding thoughts are representative only of me, though, and not guaranteed to reflect on just about anybody else in the universe. :slight_smile:

You can rent engine powered generators at most any rental outlet. But be aware that many are quite loud. You might need to construct something to direct the noise away from the area where the people are. Without reducing the airflow to the generator of course. Sections of foam insulating board in a V formation with another piece over the top has worked well for me in the past. Hold it all together with duct tape.

Honda makes some that are pretty quiet, you might be able to find one of those. Like this one http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/ModelDetail.asp?ModelName=eu1000i

I just re-read your post, and noticed that you are looking for a battery powered system. Out of curiosity, where is this event that you don’t have access to electricity? There are some self-powered systems out there (JBL makes one, I think), but you may be better off choosing a system that meets your needs and then running a generator to power it.

Thanks All for the input. Maybe I will look into the generator idea.
The ceremony is in a park that has no electricity. We had been planning on just doing it totally acoustic, which we still might do, but we just decided to look into getting some sort of amplification.

How far is this park from electricity? (extension cords are your friend)

Double- and triple-check that you can run an engine-powered device at the park before renting a generator. And yes, unless you cough up the big bucks to rent a professional genny such as an MQ or Whisperwatt you will be shouting to be heard over the thing. Small portable generators are as noisy (if not more so!) as a lawn mower.

Depending on the amount of amp power and length of time you need, you might be able to power an inverter with a car battery and use that to run an amp.

I’ve DJ’d weddings for a number of years and agree with chrisk that a PA system may imply a voice-only quality system although newer PA equipment should be able to provide good sound quality for music.

As an alternative you might consider operating a small system (we have full range powered speakers as a “B” system which consume less power than our racked power amplifiers) and run the system off of a power inverter attached to the battery of a car. You would need to pay attention to the size of the inverter needed and possibly run the car at idle to maintain the power needed for an extended length of time. I have a friend who s using an inverter setup with his truck to power a motorized pitching machine for little league. He bought the inverter at a Costco.