How many watts for how many people? Portable PA system?

I am putting on a conference for about 500 people in a large hotel conference room and would like to take my own PA system. I might be having a music session with 2 guitars, 2 vocals, and 1 piano. Mostly I would be having speaking workshops. I need:

2 wireless microphones (for main session room filled with 500 people)

Speakers for main room

Mixer board with option to input sound from a laptop

Setup for 2 smaller breakout sessions (mics, speakers, mixers)

Also need to be able to upgrade the mics if I need to add a few more.

About how many watts do I need for this many people, want good quality but not a 10k system. Need it to be fairly portable as we will be doing these events nationwide. Thanks so much for any help!

1 Answer

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    In all honesty what you want is an all in one portable PA system. It is just so much easier in such a situation than setting up the mixer, amps, effects racks, running all the wires and ringing it out not to mention lugging all that stuff around. The only additional gear you need is the mics. JBL makes a system called the EON and I've heard it several times.

    It sounds good and projects well at outdoor events so it should fill a 500 seat auditorium well. They aren't the only brand on the market though. I imagine Behringer, Mackie Sampson and others make systems like this as well. The question of watts is nebulous at best. The portable PA systems use powered speakers with drivers that are matched to the built-in amps so what you need to consider in this case is maximum sound pressure level and frequency response. You would do well to look at what is available from merchants like:

    Then read reviews. If you can, you should actually go to a 'brick and mortar store' and audition a system. Any reputable music store will let you try one out.

    But to answer your original question; a 250 watt per side amp should be more than adequate for this situation with a set of efficient PA type speakers such a Community, EV or Peavey - 150 watts at a bare minimum. Just make sure the power amp is a reputable brand like Crown, Peavey, Hafler (I like Haflers) or QSC. Make sure it is an RMS rating and not a Peak or PMPO rating. The cheapo brands use the latter ratings.

    Source(s): Too many years behind a mixing console.
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