How to Set Up a PA System

By Techwalla Electronics Editor

It can be a bit confusing to set up a PA system for the first time. It seems as though there are hundreds of options, but following a specific set up order makes the job easier. Although there are dozens of brands and models, one can almost always set up a PA system in the following order.

Things You'll Need

  • Complete PA System
  • Gaffer's Tape

Step 1

Position the mixing board and power amp of the PA system. Connect the cables from the main outs of the mixing board into the input of the power amp. If the system uses a box mixer, the mixing board and power amp are a single unit. Plug units into the electrical socket, taping down power cords if needed. Do not turn on anything.

Step 2

Place the speakers in desired positions. If the power amp or box mixer is stereo (right and left), connect the speakers on the right of the unit to the right speaker jacks and the left speakers to the left. If the system is mono, it will not matter. Tape down speaker cables if necessary.

Step 3

Connect any individual audio equipment, such as CD or MP3 players, to an auxiliary or tape in the jack. These jacks are strictly amplified and the individual channel controls will not affect their performance. If connecting such a device, turn everything on and run a simple sound check with the external player to confirm all speakers are operating and get an estimate of the volume needed.

Step 4

Place monitors, speakers that allow performers to hear themselves, and connect them to monitor out jacks, taping down cables if necessary. Run a simple sound check with the external player.

Step 5

Connect all instruments to the mixing board, giving each their own channel. Sound check each item as it is connected. After all instruments are connected and the cables are secured with tape to the floor, repeat the process for all microphones.

Step 6

Run a final sound check with all instruments and microphones being used at the same time. This allows for adjustment so that every channel can be properly heard.

Step 7

Connect any external recording device through tape out jacks to record the sound going through the PA system.

Tips & Warnings

  • Taping down cables with gaffer's tape will prevent both people tripping and damage to equipment.
  • These directions assume the PA system is a pre-existing system known to have properly matched components.