How To Setup A Sound System (PA System)

We often rent out sound systems to clients and events who don’t have any experience setting up sound systems. We put this article and video together as a beginner’s guide to setting up our sound equipment if they’re new to sound systems and renting PA systems.

Even if you don’t rent from us, we hope that you’ll find this article helpful and we hope that you have a successful event.

How To Setup A Sound System

Before we get into the steps, we’re going to make some assumptions:

  • 2 Powered Speakers (Probably Yamaha DXR12 (or similar))
  • 1 Small Mixer (Probably Yamaha MG10 (or similar))
  • 1-2 Microphones (Wired or Wireless)
  • Music Playback (iPod, Phone, Laptop)

Sound Equipment Location

The first step to setting up your sound system is finding the correct location for each component. Here are some things to consider:

  • Proximity to power: It’s always wise to locate your audio equipment close to a power outlet to prevent running more cable than is necessary.
  • Location of microphone: Where will the microphone be used? Is there a stage area? It’s always a good idea to think about where you’ll want the microphone because that will often dictate the location of the speakers and the mixer as well.
  • Location of speakers: As a general rule, you always want your speakers placed in front of your microphone. In other words, don’t place your speakers in a position where the microphone can easily “hear” the speakers. This will cause the screeching, annoying feedback that everyone loathes at events.
  • Location of mixer: There are two possible locations for the audio mixer/controller.
    • Between the microphone and the speakers: This just makes sense, it requires the least amount of cable to have your mixer located somewhere between your microphone and speakers.
    • In a location that is out of the way (back corner of the room): The idea here is to keep all of the “ugly” A/V equipment out of sight and away from the stage. It requires much more cable to run this way, but always looks better.
Sound System Setup Mixer
Here are two sound systems, showing two different possible locations for the audio mixer. In the example on the left, the audio mixer is on the stage. In the example on the right, the audio mixer is at the back of the room.

How To Setup A Sound System

We now know what equipment we’re setting up and where we want everything. To setup your sound system, follow the best practices listed below.

Yamaha MG10 Audio Mixer
  1. Place Speakers / Microphones on stands and place them where you want them to go.
  2. Place the mixer on a table where you want it to go.
  3. Plug power cables into speaker(s) – Leave them turned off
  4. Plug power cable into mixer – Leave it turned off
  5. Plug speakers/mixer into the wall
  6. Use the XLR cable (round 3 pin cable) to connect the output of the mixer (top right), to the input of the speaker (top, rear). Repeat for all additional speakers
  7. Use another XLR cable to connect the microphone to the first input of the mixer (top left).
  8. On the mixer, make sure all of the gain and volume knobs are set their lowest available level.
  9. On the mixer, make sure all of the EQ and PAN knobs are set to the centre position.
  10. Power on the mixer
  11. Power on the speakers
  12. Turn the master output on the speaker up to halfway (bottom right of MG10 Mixer)
  13. Turn the volume on the first input up to the halfway mark.
  14. Turn the gain on the first input up slowly until the microphone is as loud as you want it.
  15. Repeat steps 13-14 for all additional microphones
  16. Tape down all cable that is unsafe.
  17. When you take the equipment down, please do your best to wrap the cable properly using the over/under technique.

Here is a video explaining everything that we’ve mentioned in the article.

Kettner Creative is a full service audio visual (A/V) company located in Vancouver, BC. We rent Audio, Video, Lighting, Drape and LED Furniture for events. If you’re interested in our services for an upcoming event – Please contact us!