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Public Address Equipment Buying Guide

Public address equipment plays an important role in school assemblies, pep rallies, sporting events, emergency situations and even classroom learning. The major factors you'll want to consider when choosing PA equipment for your school are:

PA Size/Audience Size

Full-Size Public Address Systems – (300 to 5,000 people) - For any more than 300 people you'll want to choose a full-size PA. All of our full-size PA systems are portable (or self-contained) sound systems, combining an amplifier, a mixer and a speaker into a single, easy-to-move unit. For a larger audience, many full-size public address systems can be expanded by adding speakers or connecting multiple PA units.

Personal Public Address Systems – (under 300 people) – Personal PA systems generally include a compact speaker and a microphone. If you will mostly be dealing with smaller audiences, or if you are simply looking for a way for your teachers to reach large classes without straining their voices, consider a personal PA system. These lightweight systems range from freestanding PAs for gymnasiums and cafeterias to pocket-sized units that clip onto your belt.

Megaphones - The major measure of a megaphone's power is its projection distance. Megaphones are important for school security and emergency response, but a good megaphone can also be an asset at assemblies, pep rallies and sporting events. You should also consider safety/emergency options such as sirens, built-in recorders, handheld remote microphones and flashing safety lights for smoke or low visibility.

Venue

How big is the room? What is the shape of the room? The answers to these questions will determine the number of speakers and where in the room they are placed. Will you be using your PA system indoors, outdoors or both? What other noises will you be competing with? You will need a more powerful system, or possibly extra speakers, for outdoor assemblies and noisy environments.

Inputs/Outputs

It is important to know how many input and output connections a PA system offers before you make a decision. Decide how many microphones, speakers and auxiliary sources you'll be hooking up to your PA. Then, find a system that fits those needs. It is also important to check what style of connections your PA has. Make sure that any existing equipment you plan to use will be compatible. The three most common plug styles are XLR, 1/4" and RCA (phono) plugs.

Power Source

PA systems operate on either AC (alternating current) power, DC (direct current) power or both. AC power comes from a standard wall outlet, while DC power comes from a rechargeable battery unit. A public address system with a rechargeable battery is easier to move around your school and is perfect for outdoor assemblies.

Portability

Though all of our PA systems are portable, some units have different features that may suit your needs. If you plan on moving your PA system around a lot, you may look for a smaller, lighter PA, or one with wheels and a handle. Carrying cases are also an option.

Special Features

Depending on how you will be using your PA system, there are a variety of control options and special features that can enhance any presentation:

CD/Cassette Player - Many PA units include CD or cassette players for incorporating music into your presentations, pep rallies and assemblies. Separate volume controls let you balance the level of any music or audio you use, allowing your presenter to be heard.

Recording - Some PA systems feature a built-in recording device for capturing and playing back students' speeches, or for recording presentations from visiting speakers.

Wireless - If your presenters will be moving around the venue or if audience participation will be a big part of your assemblies, wireless transmission is right for you. Find a PA that includes a wireless microphone. Some public address systems even use wireless speakers, which eliminate the limitations and clutter of wired speakers.

Accessories

Once you choose a PA system for your school, you must figure out which accessories you will need to enhance your system:

Microphones - PA systems usually come with at least one microphone, and certain packages come with more. If you want extra microphones for multiple presenters or for audience participation, consider both wired and wireless microphones. Wireless mics are available as handheld, collar, headband, over-the-ear and clip-on lapel microphones.

Companion Speakers - Companion speakers are an important accessory to any full-size public address system, because they allow you to expand your present system, adding volume and coverage for larger audiences and venues.

Carrying Cases - Carrying cases are important for storing and moving your expensive PA equipment. You can purchase hard plastic cases, soft nylon bags and slip covers for PA systems, speakers, mics, cables and even full-size lecterns. Many PA carrying cases include rollers and handles for easy portability.

Other Accessories - Other available accessories to consider are speaker stands and tripods, wireless belt-pack transmitters for microphones, battery chargers and remote controls.

PA system packages offer many different accessory options. If you have more questions about our public address systems, or if you need help deciding which options and accessories will work best for your school, just give one our knowledgeable sales consultants a call at 1-800-260-2776. We are always happy to assist you.

Browse our entire selection of Public Address Equipment online to quickly find the set that's right for you.

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