Sound systems for various types of music and instruments.

Apart from the aspects of bass performance and sheer power handling, a well balanced PA system should really be able to handle all types of music.

Don't be confused into thinking that a certain kind of music requires a certain kind of sound system, physics doesn't change to suit the style of music. Certainly don't as some bands have found to their cost, make the mistake of including the PA system into their sound, as a sound shaper or even an an instrument. (This is a very bad idea!).

Some music doesn't contain much bass or bass levels are deliberately curtailed, so bass extension there is not a consideration. Some music tends to be louder than others and therefore needs the power handling. Apart from this the only difference is that some music can tolerate distortion more than others!

The type of system should be considered more as to the type of venues and the sound levels, along with transportation and convenience.

Don't just catagorise music in genre when mixing either. There is an overall starting balance which covers most music if a sound system is set up properly.

All music that people might want to dance to, whether electronic, rock, punk, country, salsa, folk, hip hop, reggae, jazz, techno, pop or whatever, all feature a powerful but tight, kik drum/bass sound. Either that or there is some thing else that substitutes. This is same  with a bass guitar and drumkit as with the bass and drums sounds of an electronic artist or DJ.

This is what makes people move. This is the fundamental underpin of all rock, pop and dance music, and even, it may come as a surprise to some, folk music. It's like the chassis and engine of a car. Get this right and the rest can easily follow.

Having power and headroom on gentler music is more important than is immediately obvious. Acoustic music has a wide dynamic range (the difference between the quietest and loudest sounds) and can feature impressive transients that are lost on an underpowered or frequency restricted system.

The need for clarity and low distortion is more obvious with acoustic music and is often lower on the agenda for electric and electronic music. The PA system should not be just for making everything loud, all music sounds better through a clean well balanced system,and even harsh sounding music. The nuances and detail in in the various styles of modern electronic dance music should not be missed either, just because is produced electronically doesn't mean it doesn't require hi-fidelity.

Most music, if it is recorded, is balanced through studio monitors, highly neutral and accurate speakers that are the reference for what is considered the artists personal sound. If distortion is wanted, then it is added before it reaches the monitors, and then in a controlled and musically relevant way.

The same on stage, if musicians want distortion then they supply it not the PA system. The job of the PA is reproduce what it is supplied with in a reasonably neutral, well balanced manner and with the minimum of distortion. The same goes for DJ rigs. The only acceptable deviation from neutral is where a good set-up will often enhance the sound in a grand manner, in a similar vein to some hi-end hi-fi speakers.

The one other point to stress here is with tonal balance in general.

Harsh, searing, brash, boomy, distorted, mushy are common critisisms of both live and DJ sound systems and it gains no favours, spoils it for the listener and lets down the artists and music producers who work so hard to make the music in the first place!

Keep it warm and make it sparkle, avoid harshness and resonances. Everyone enjoys it, gets into it and they will love you for it.

A well balanced PA system has a smooth, reasonably accurate frequency response, a well defined radiation pattern, and if set up properly and not overdriven, will sound good in most venues, indoor or out without special tweaking and adjustment. And it will do so no matter what style of music.


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