What size PA System do I need?

What size PA System do I need?

how to calculate speaker coverage indoors and outdoors.

If you are planning an event or hosting a conference, meeting, lecture. One of the most important parts of planning any event is working out what speaker system you need. For working out speaker coverage there is a vast range of factors to consider. If we focus firstly on what speaker systems we rent out. This will narrow down factors and considerations.

We hire PA (public address) systems for outdoor shows and events plus indoor functions such as conferences, weddings, trade stands etc.
We don't provide speaker systems for large outdoor festivals. This is a totally different area of PA system hire. Typically a flown line array but to name a few options.

Calculating indoor speaker coverage requirements.

Naturally. There are a few factors here to consider. Firstly we should take into account;-

  • The type of event.
  • The size of the venue
  • Layout of the venue
  • Expectations of the client (Your expectations).
  • Use of the system (General announcements?, music?, bands?)

If you can pin down an answer for the above questions we can work start to work out what size speaker system you will need for your occasion. As a very rough rule of thumb for an indoor function, you should gauge for 6-8 watts per person. If you plan to have music such as a wedding reception and want a disco feel. You can double this value and take into account subwoofers for some extra bass.

Louder isn't better. - Positioning and Quality.

One of the most important things to remember is louder isn't better. A human ear can tolerate up to 91db of sound for 2 hours without being excessive. For a Wedding reception or a birthday party for example. You want to ensure everyone has a good night and doesn't have ringing ears the next morning.

Positioning of speakers is key. You don't want all your audio being fired directly at those attending your occasion. The ones near the front will be deaf and the ones at the back won't get as much volume.  We would always setup your speaker hires with the best audio layout in mind.

One of the other items to consider is horizontal audio coverage. This is covering both sides of the audience with noise. Where possible you would try to reduce overlap as much as possible so not to create audio hotspots in the centre but this can be quite difficult to achieve.

A rough guideline in a simple format.

Indoor PA System (Weddings, parties)

  • 800-1000w - 75 people
  • 2800-3000w - 150 people

On a conference system on a simple room layout, you can use slightly lower calculations (similar to our guide at the start).

Outdoor Speaker Systems.

On this part of the article we won't focus on line array systems. The kind you would typically see at a large music festival. We provide 100volt (100v) line speaker systems. The amplifier outputs 100 volts RMS and then as the signal is carried down the line each speaker has a transformer which reduces the 100 volts down to speaker level. Most 100 volt horn speakers have a 'tap' which allows the control of the speaker output. 10 watts, 20 watts, etc.

For outdoor events such as marathons, motorsport days and equestrian events. Our 100 volt line systems provide wide area speaker coverage. These systems can be linked together or you can have multiple standalone systems such as car/lorry parks and then main arenas. See Outdoor PA System Hire for more.

Calculating what you need on an outdoor event can vary so it would be best to speak to us if you were looking to hire a system.

How we can help.

To give you the sound coverage on outdoor events in large open spaces. we have available to rent;- 

  • Commentary Boxes which can host 4 speakers
  • 6 metre high speaker tower trailers which can host 5 speakers
  • Plus a variety of smaller winch stands that can accommodate 3 speakers.
  • Where crowd lines or fence lines are used. We can setup multiple lines of speakers on single aluminium poles.

Other helpful coverage information:-

Loudspeaker Coverage ISCE

How To Configure a PA System

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