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FDP Forum / Performer's Corner / Combining and carrying all your PA Gear

Contributing Member

Suburban MD.

Are your prayer beads maple or rosewood?
Jun 7th, 2016 07:17 AM   Edit   Profile  

I have two power amps and 2 Peavey full range monitors. And an SKB 8U case.
Plus a BBE Sonic Maximizer, a DBX 231 EQ, and a Peavey feedback buster. And a Mackie 12-channel board.
The band broke up before we actually used any of it so it never even got hooked up!
My new band has a gig later this summer...we'll use one amp for the 2 mains and one amp for the three wedges (bass player has more speakers and a power amp of his own!).

Every setup I've seen they put the amps in one rack and all the processing gear in another, so should I swap out the 8U full size jobber for a 6U rolling rack and put the amps there, then get an SKB shallow rack for all the EQ and power and extras??
Or should I put ALL my stuff in the 8U and just lug it and deal, that way I have my stuff separate from the bass player's's stuff?

Speaking of power, would this unit provide enough juice for my setup?

Furman 9 slot power

Tony Wright

Stillwater, OK

I never met a calorie I didn't like.
Jun 7th, 2016 07:21 PM   Edit   Profile  

The real issue of splitting amps from the rack mounted effects has more to do with "where is the mixer located?"

Is the mixer on stage? If not then you need to seriously consider splitting the amps into a different rack than the "front of house rack" with the effects and processors.

Amps need to be closer to speakers in order to be efficient. You will lose power (albeit a small amount) the longer your speaker cable run is.

One advantage to powered speakers is the cable is signal cable NOT power cable meaning you use mic cable not speaker cable from the mixer to the power amps which are located inside the speaker cabinet.

That same concept is part of what makes it OK to use a passive snake from the front of house to the stage....because the amps in racks are located on the stage.

The other question to ask is can you still lift the rack if you have the processors/EFX/GEQ AND the power amps in one rack?


There may be issues with your Furman....let me explain and ask questions.

The big issue is how much power does each of the components require? The power amp draw of AC from the wall outlet may not support all the demand of the PA and/or the PA and the instrument amps or the stage lighting.

You remember when you used to cringe as you worried if you would trip the breakers at the venue? That is always an issue and in your case, If you run the amps and the front of house all out of one 15A fuse on the Furman....it can go anytime you overload it.

The best thing you can do is look on each power amp and each and find the current draw of each device and add it up.

Keep in mind that at home, you have 2 or 3 or as many as 4 rooms on one 20 Amp circuit. I have often used 100 Amps to power my stage. Of course, I was running large systems. And we would attach to the breaker box with a power distro, not a power conditioner. Basically we brought our own circuit breaker and would take over the breaker box at the venue to pull our necessary current.

What can happen is a "brown out" rather than a blown fuse or breaker if you over load...and that is significantly worse than a complete loss of power. If you run your subwoofer power amps and your mains and your monitors and your bass amp and your stage lights and the lead and rhythm amps along with pedal boards and keyboard....well, if you were unlucky, instead of blowing the breaker with too much draw....the various devices might start being "starved" and everything might be affected by the loss of power which could cause damage to the internal circuits. Tripped breakers are a blessing to having your power amps in the repair shop.

NOW before you slam me...I have no idea how large your power amps are nor do I know what kind of current you need for your stage...I am making a generic warning for everyone who reads this...

We tend to think that one Furman will protect our gear....not true. It will only protect up to 15 Amps worth. As for "power conditioning"....maybe. I don't live in your neck of the woods so I don't know how much "noise" is in your wall current.

But you might find the noise lives in the device not in the wall current.

If you are one who still used older gear with just two AC blades on the plug...SHAME ON YOU! You are leaving yourself open for electrocution for ungrounded gear.

So, first ask yourself why this single device is better than your basic "Walmart" or other big box 15 Amp power strip. If all you are looking for is extra Edison wall outlets (3 prong grounded female outlets) then you need to run from a different circuit wall outlet...

Again, I have no idea how much power you require and don't know the specifics of all your gear.

As a generic rule of thumb:

If you are running to mains on the left channel of a power amp, producing around 2000 Watts AND you are running two subwoofers on the right channel of the same power amp, producing another 2000 Watts (REMEMBER, it is the AMPLIFIER that produces the Watts, not the speaker) that is probably about all you want to pull from one entire 20 Amp circuit.

Let's take a real world example:

QSC PLX3602 is a very respected pro level power amp. If you are running two 4 Ohm dual 18 subwoofers (Yamaha SW218V) you are requiring a 2 Ohm load from ONE SIDE of the PLX3602. You would be sending each 2-18 cabinet 900 Watts.

Same PLX3602, but now you are using the "other side" of that "stereo power amp" to drive two 4 Ohm main speakers like the 2x15/horn Yamaha S215V cabinets. Again, the two 4 Ohm mains would produce a single 2 Ohm load. The PLX3602 produces 1800 Watts per side at 2 Ohm stereo, so again the two 2-15/horn mains receive the same 900 Watts EACH.

That one amp is producing 3600 Watts equally divided between two subwoofers and two mains.

That power amp is drawing 11.5A/120V.

Using your Furman power conditioner, you have 3.5 Amps before you trip the breaker.

Keep in mind, most club owners are cheap, so there is probably only one 20A circuit on the stage. Two if you are very lucky...and if he had the juke box or a TV plugged into the circuit, well who knows how much power is left for you.

Even if a full 20Amps comes to your Furman, it only has 15 Amps out...and everybody has to play nice with each other.

Check the manufacturer's specifications for your equipment and then do the math.

I read the above twice and I probably made a mistake, but it reads "right" so I believe the information is correct. But it has been about 7 years since I ran passive speakers and power amps. And at my age, I have to check my DL to be sure I remember my name.

Contributing Member

Suburban MD.

Are your prayer beads maple or rosewood?
Jun 8th, 2016 06:41 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks Tony...as always you are a wealth of knowledge...Lots to consider...
I think the largest amp either of us has is 500 watts, and we'll probably run FOH on one circuit and Mons and stage gear on another.

And not to muddy things, but looks like this will be a backyard party outdoors!! So we're also at the mercy of whatever external power is available at the house. But that also means we'll be at LOW volume...and neither of us has bass bins. Hopefully we can pull power from two different house circuits!

And it's funny you mention the 2 prong thing. The rehearsal room we use had one power strip that had the ground snipped off! I didn't get a bad shock when touching the mic and my guitar, but more of a low buzz. I replaced it with my own and just left it there!


Willoughby, OH , USA

I'm arrogant and a moron
Jun 8th, 2016 11:32 AM   Edit   Profile  

Let's get realistic. If you're playing a back yard or a small club, you don't need the a PA the size of a stadium gig. If you have to schlepp the PA yourself( NO ROADIES), it mmght be best to use several small racks that one person can handle alone.

Juice Nichols
Contributing Member

Panama City, FL

Same ol **** but my hair's longer
Jun 9th, 2016 07:33 AM   Edit   Profile  

This is the biggest reason I completely changed course with my PA. Nothing but powered speakers and an XR 18 Air for a mixer. Extremely light weight and highly portable. The mixer has the equivalent of about 4 full racks of effects gear in something the size of a lunch box.

Setting up for acoustic duo stuff is incredibly fast. I think I could be set up and playing in 10 minutes if I had to.

Since I have been always "the dude with the PA" the lighter and less work the better.

Tony Wright

Stillwater, OK

I never met a calorie I didn't like.
Jun 10th, 2016 06:21 AM   Edit   Profile  

There are a lot of variables on current demand for live performances....but you should not need to always worry...nor should you have to carry a slide rule to figure out whether you will anticipate issues at the gig.

My previous band played a lot of events in 2 or 3 venues that were "retail store fronts converted to restaurants or pubs". At the two most common, we were on ONE 20A circuit. Our preparation for those gigs was simply to connect at rehearsal just as we would at the gig, one wall outlet with extension chords...and discovered that we fit.

Mind you that we were fairly small as far as AC power demand. He had a Hot Rod Deville tube amp, I had a GK MB210 digital bass amp. The PA was my small Mackie ProFX mixer and four powered mains. We had two wireless mics, his pedal board and two large LED stage lights. Later the band leader told me he wanted to start using HIS PA so we switched to his Yamaha EMX512SC and passive mains and monitors. We never tripped a circuit. BUT...we did not play "THAT" loud so the amps never pulled their full demand.

Try it at home if you still have a rehearsal left between now and the gig.

Shunka and Juice have really good comments regarding "lighter weight". I am all over that for my own gear. I downsized my entire system recently. My "large" pair of speakers are JBL PRX612m that weigh 35 pounds, 1000 Watt active cabinets that are at home for main or monitor. I also picked up four Yamaha DBR10 active speakers (325 Watts RMS) that weigh 23.2 pounds.

Now before you rush out to buy something...this is for a "low volume semi acoustic band of geezers". We play low enough, the audience sits about 15ft away and we can talk back and forth over the volume of the music...not too many bands play at those levels. BUT my friend who does sound for hire has called me several times to rent either my JBL or the Yamaha for extra monitors at high volume, large outdoor gigs, they all "turn up" quite nicely.

(FWIW: We only use two of the DBR10 set on the floor or ground...most of our gigs are backyard house parties...behind the musicians facing the audience so those two cabinets serve as main and monitor.)

Your original post was a little "open ended" and thus I brought out all the things you need to consider. But in reality, if you are not hitting THAT hard, you might be able pull it off with just one 20A circuit. Two circuits would be adequate in most cases for gigs with the set up you described.

As for "schlepping gear" I have a rule:

"Never carry what you can move on a dolly."

For a backyard gig, you can move a lot of stuff in a kids "little red wagon". (An old blanket helps protect the stuff on the bottom of a rusty wagon.)

Sounds like you have this one under control.



Earn while you learn
Jun 11th, 2016 09:25 AM   Edit   Profile  

I have several racks that I use with my rigs. One in particular may be suggested for your application.
(I can email you a picture of the rack if you wish..)
from top to bottom:
Furman power conditioner (15 amp)
Bose 402C EQ (for two monitor mixes)
Yorkville E152P (FOH processor)
Crown XS4300 (4 channel amp; two used for monitors and two used for mid/hi cabs' horns)
Crown IT6000 (channel one used for mid/hi cabs' woofers, channel 2 used for subs)

I have run the entire rack (two subs + two mid/hi cabs as a 3-way system, plus two monitors in small clubs on one circuit...granted I did not have things ear-piercing loud, but none-the-less the above rack plus a DBX2231 EQ and Mixwizard mixer all on the Furman power conditioner.

When I use the rack for outdoor shows I connect the IT6000 amp directly to wall power, thus keeping the the heavy lifting on the wall power.

Having most of my sound gear in a rack (pre-wired) makes setup/breakdown easy.

I am by no means an electrician. I assembled my racks myself, wired them, soldered them, etc.

The last two racks I assembled as "winter projects" with all "used gear". I just keep an eye out for what I could use on Craigslist, Ebay, etc, and over some time it all turns up.

I'm a one-man-show (sound provider) so I schlepp everything myself thus having the heavy stuff in a rack (WITH wheels) is a big help.

In the 90's I used to have my amps/processors in separate racks to carry into a venue. I then had to connect them all together...it took forever...

My small sound company

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