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Make sure your voice is heard above the crowd with a Public Address System

What is a Public Address System (PA) and what is it used for?

Have you ever tried to make yourself heard over the cacophony of voices and music at a packed public event? It’s not easy. That’s where a Public Address System (or PA for short) comes in.

At its simplest, a PA System provides the means for a voice (or other audio sources such as a musical instrument) to be heard over the roar of a crowd, and at a distance. The PA amplifies the audio input so it can be heard by everyone.

PA system features and components

Public Address Systems vary tremendously in capability and complexity.

The simplest version is the megaphone. This self-contained, handheld device incorporates a microphone, amplifier and speaker. The user speaks into the megaphone and their voice is amplified and broadcast through a horn-style speaker that makes it not only louder, but also helps it to carry further.

Other PA Systems can be considerably more sophisticated. The microphone, amplifier and speaker(s) are often separate components that can be swapped out and upgraded if needed. Some Public Address Systems may include multi-channel sound input and output, multiple microphones, a mixer board for fine-tuning audio and adding effects, Bluetooth support, connectivity for various devices including musical instruments, high-powered speakers, lighting, and even a teleprompter.

Some PA systems are built for portability, with handles or wheels for easy carrying, and the option of battery-powered operation.

Situations where a PA system is needed

PA systems are popular because there are so many situations where having one is invaluable. Basically, any time someone is speaking to a crowd or over a distance, use of a Public Address System will save their voice while ensuring everyone can hear. This includes speakers at corporate retreats or conferences, press conferences, school events, concerts, bars, churches, and special events.

How to choose the best Public Address System, and what is the best PA for vocals?

The best PA System is the one that fits your specific needs.

If you need a PA so that event organizers can walk around a crowded site and attract the attention of groups of attendees, a simple megaphone may be the best bet. It’s highly portable and makes it easy to direct speech at specific groups. If the Public Address System can’t count on having power or needs to be easily moved from location to location, then portability and the ability to operate on battery power are key requirements. If the PA will be used to broadcast not just voice, but also instruments, you’ll need a PA with the required inputs—and a mixer to optimize the sound output for each source will help tremendously.

What’s the best Public Address System for vocals? Look for one with a high-quality microphone, ideally with noise cancellation (so background noise doesn’t also get amplified). A mixer or amplifier with a built-in “vocal” setting will optimize the output to ensure voices are clear even at high volumes.