PMT Guide: Best School PA System Essentials

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Updated 23/11/18

We take a look at how to create the best school PA system for all applications. These are our favourite complete school sound system or college sound system for stage performances, theatre productions, dinner halls, sports days and more

School PA System

Whether you need to address an assembly, utilise stage monitors, play music in a dinner hall or be heard on a sports day, your school PA system needs to be able to withstand years of use and provide you with the functionality and flexibility to keep up with the demands of a busy school. So, with that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the things you’ll need and some of the best options including mixers, PA speakers, portable PA systems and wireless microphones.

3 Best Mixers for School PA Systems

If you’re going to providing a larger scale sound, say for dinner rooms, theatre productions and assemblies for example, you might need a larger PA system, which would inevitably include a mixer.

You’ll undoubtedly need to provide music via Bluetooth or through AUX and provide a selection of speakers with microphones, or perhaps you’ll need to mic up an array of different instruments or make changes to your sound from different areas in the room or in an outdoor setting – either way, there’s a PA mixer perfect for you. So, here’s 3 of the best mixers available today that’ll cover a lot of different applications with 16 channels or more.

1. RCF M18 Digital Mixer

RCF M18 Digital Mixer

The RCF M18 Digital Mixer is best for school applications where mobility is paramount. The key benefit of the RCF M18 is the fact you control the mixer via your iPad, iOS or Android device rather than on the unit – in fact you’ll notice that there are no sliders, faders or knobs on the mixer itself, just all the inputs you need including 8 Mic Preamp Inputs, 10 Line inputs, 1 Stereo Main Outs and 6 balanced Aux outputs, so you’re covered for all eventualities - strange we know!

The best part is you don’t need a sound engineer to operate this mixer as the MixRemote App, free on both the iTunes and Google App stores, makes it easy to control your mix.

An internal power supply and integrated Wi-Fi access point ensure you’re always portable, so you can transport this mixer between rooms or use it outdoors (as long as you have Wi-Fi) if you need to. This is widely used by musicians who look after their own PA sound on stage as it makes sound checks and gigs so much easier, as well as presenters and sound engineers who need to be able to move around - you can make changes to the sound anytime you need to quickly and easily and even utilise amp modelling and effects via a footswitch. Definitely one of the best products to consider when creating your school PA system if you have live bands or school productions.

2. QSC TouchMix-30 Pro 32-Channel Digital Mixer

QSC TouchMix-30 Pro 32-Channel Digital Mixer

If you’re looking for a school PA system that can also act as a portable recording studio, the QSC TouchMix 30 Pro is ideal. This is so much more than just a 32-channel digital mixer as you not only have 32 mixing channels (24 Mic/Line, 6 Line, Stereo USB) and 16 outputs to provide live sound with, but you can also record up to 32 tracks directly to an external hard drive. This means you can capture live performances or speaking events etc. via the mixer and mix and bounce them down via the integrated DAW – ideal for us in schools of performing arts or live music applications. You can essentially create complete albums, and add effects utilising the 10” touch screen or QSC Touchmix 30 Pro App to make sound adjustments, set up overdubs and make post production changes as you go. You can then transfer it all to any Mac or Windows DAW software for editing. If you need to record music for colleges, capture bands and public speakers or record any type of audio from a performance this is perfect.

Another reason why we think this is one of the best PA systems for schools, is the fact that its so easy to use and completely intuitive due to the Anti-Feedback and Room Tuning Wizards which completely simplify complex equalization tasks and get the best sound possible without any fuss. The Room Tuning Wizard instantly seeks out the best frequencies based on the size of the room and applies the best sound possible, whilst the versatile Preset bank allows you to instantly set up your mixer and PA system, whether you’re mixing live music or speech – click a preset and the mixer does all the hard work.

Again, you can control the unit via the QSC Touchmix 30 Pro App on your Android or iOS device, making adjustments a breeze and ensuring you can move around the room whilst still being in control of your PA.

Here's how easy it is to start mixing:

3. PreSonus StudioLive AR16 18-Channel Hybrid Mixer

PreSonus StudioLive AR16 18-Channel Hybrid Mixer

Next up we have the PreSonus StudioLive AR16 18-Channel Hybrid Mixer, which easily makes our best school PA system list thanks to its high number of channels (you have 18) and ease of use. This is built for both studio and live performances meaning you can capture audio perfectly and provide high quality live sound any time you like. The portable nature of this mixer is also great for larger schools and colleges as you can easily transport the mixer under your arm and set it up in seconds.

You have all the controls and connections you’ll need here including four mono channels and four stereo channels which are host to a 60 mm level-control fader, as well as an XLR mic input with one of PreSonus' famous Class A preamps; 3-band EQ and more. As for outputs, you have two monitor mix outputs (each with a dedicated bus) for feeding stage wedges, a headphone amp for an in-ear system, and control-room outputs for studio use (with level control to feed your studio monitors).

A Super Channel (Stereo Channel 17/18) allows you to control your mixer via phone or tablet and you can even pair your device to the PreSonus StudioLive AR16 via Bluetooth to stream backing tracks and audio.

You can also record live via two different ways; either connect your computer or laptop via the USB 2.0 interface and record direct to your DAW software, or record directly to the onboard stereo SD recorder without the need for a computer! This is a fantastic all in one option for schools and colleges and will slot easily into your school PA system, improving the way you record and produce live sound.

PA mixing desks

3 Best PA speakers for school PA systems

When you’re sculpting the best school PA system possible, you need to think about a couple of things; power and portability. These two aspects don’t have to be mutually exclusive either! You might need a set of speakers for an assembly hall, need to place fixed active speakers in a theatre or use a line-array system for outdoor applications – but overall, they need to sound great! Here’s our top recommendations for best PA speakers for schools and colleges. If you need battery powered – just scroll further down…

1. QSC K10.2 Active PA Loudspeaker

QSC K10.2 Active PA Loudspeaker

Building on the worldwide success of their K series speakers, the team at QSC have really stepped it up with these QSC K.2 series of active PA speakers. The QSC K10.2 Active PA Loudspeaker is a particular favourite here at PMT and an ideal addition to any school PA system. You have a 2000 Watt Class-D amplifier module at your disposal here all pumping out through a 10 woofer, so everyone is going to hear you whether you’re indoors or outdoors. The key benefit here is the DMT (Directivity-Matched Transition) which ensures smooth coverage across the entire listening area, so the crowd, assembly or theatre will hear everything correctly.

A library of preset contours have also been included which have been designed specifically for the likes of live performances and public speaking. Simply choose from Stage Monitor, Dance Music, Musical Instrument Amplification, Hand-held Microphone and more and you’re ready!

There’s a wide range of connectivity and control options on the rear of the speaker including a Multi-function digital display for control and selection of loudspeaker functions including cross-over, EQ, delay and frequency contours. An optional security panel can prevent unwanted tampering of controls which is handy for elementary schools.

A 6 year warranty upon product registration is also a great benefit, meaning you have greater peace of mind when purchasing your speakers.

Perfectly matched with the QSC K-Sub 1000w Active Subwoofer

Also available:

2. RCF Evox JMIX8 Black Portable Array PA System

RCF Evox JMIX8 Black Portable Array PA System

Portable array systems also offer schools, colleges and universities with a great way to provide high quality sound anywhere and at any time. However, they’ve often been quite heavy, requiring some heavy lifting to manoeuvre…until now.

The cabinets are moulded on a special polypropylene composite material designed to dampen down unwanted vibrations and weighing in at just 24.4 kg, the RCF Evox JMIX8 Black Portable Array PA System is far more portable than a lot of the line array systems out there, which means it’s easily thrown in the back of a car for transport or moved around campus without any fuss.

The 1400 Watt 2-way peak power with 128 dB Max SPL pumped out through a 12" woofer, high power 2.5" voice coil and 8 x 2" ultra-compact full range 1.0" voice coil means everyone will hear whatever you’re playing through the PA.

The interesting thing about the RCF Evox JMIX8 Black Portable Array PA System is that its packed with high-quality instrument FX and AMP simulations that can all be controlled via Bluetooth through the EVOX iOS/Android-compatible app. This means you can not only provide high quality streaming audio via Bluetooth, but you can also hook up a guitar or instrument to the PA system and enjoy an array of amazing amplifier simulations – ideal for musical colleges and schools that put on live shows and performances. For a full, stereo sound you can hook it up to the very budget friendly RCF Evox J8 Black Portable Array PA System and mix your sound via the JMIX8.

 

3. Yamaha Stagepas 600BT Bluetooth Portable PA System

Yamaha Stagepas 600BT Bluetooth Portable PA System

When you want the option to go portable or fixed with your PA speakers, the Yamaha Stagepas 600BT Bluetooth Portable PA System is a great option. With this nifty package you get two sleek, lightweight speakers and a detachable powered mixer which slots into the back of one of the speakers for easy transport.

The new, high-efficiency amplifiers offer a massive 600 watts of power, making them ideal for all applications whether they’re large or small. These make great options for sports days and the likes of assemblies and dinner halls as they are easy to set up, can be mounted via a speaker pole or fitted on a wall. The Bluetooth connectivity ensures you’re always ready to play music from your device too. The built-in feedback suppressor is extremely useful, cutting out any harsh frequencies before they start to damage a performance.

If you think 600 watts is too much, the Yamaha Stagepas 400BT Bluetooth Portable PA System is also a great choice, providing you with the ability to stream backing tracks or music directly to your PA system.

PA SPEAKERS

4 Best battery powered PA systems and speakers for schools and colleges

Again, we’re talking about portability here, so we’ve rounded up the best battery powered PA speakers for school PA systems, which will allow you to enjoy powerful, high-quality sound anywhere. These make ideal options for outdoor applications and include an array of connectivity options, some of which come with a wired or unwired microphone.

1. Alto Transport 12 Portable PA System with Wireless Mic & USB

Alto Transport 12 Portable PA System with Wireless Mic & USB

The Alto Transport 12 Portable PA System is a complete wireless PA system that is entirely portable, complete with carry handle and wheels for easy transport. You have a 400-watt peak power output at your disposal here, all powered for up to 8 hours thanks to the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This means you get 8 hours of continuous performance from a single charge.

The built in USB media player provides convenient playback of any music or audio you wish and the Voice Priority feature automatically lowers the volume during announcements so you don’t need to touch the PA. In fact, you even get a handheld UHF wireless microphone system included within the package with a range of up to 250 feet / 76 meters – ideal for outdoor applications.

2. Roland BA330 Portable Active PA System

roland ba-330

The Roland BA330 Portable Active PA System is a superb quality, 30-watt battery powered PA speaker system with 4 channels; two channels dedicated for microphones or musical instruments, and two other channels for standard 1/4” stereo input, so you’ll have plenty to work with, whether you’re providing audio outdoors or playing musical instruments in a hall.

This will be a useful addition to any school PA system thanks to the fact it can be powered via AC power or eight AA batteries. When you use the battery option, you can enjoy high quality sound up to approximately 8 hours on the MAX setting and approximately 12 hours on the ECO setting.

One of the main features that schools will find useful is the Anti-Feedback function, which automatically detects any potentially damaging frequencies about to creep in and eliminates them instantly. This is perfect for assemblies, live performances and outdoor applications. You can use the Stereo link to pair another BA-330 for stereo sound. There’s no set up required either, just plug in, get your level and you’re good to go!

3. Bose S1 Pro Multi-Position PA System

Bose S1 Pro Multi-Position PA System

The Bose S1 Pro Multi-Position PA System is the perfect all-in-one, battery powered PA speaker for schools and colleges in need of something that they can stream music to via Bluetooth and use in multiple positions.

Onboard this ultra-portable and lightweight PA speaker you have a 3-channel mixer with reverb effects built-in as well as one-button Bluetooth pairing, a 3.5 mm input for connecting a DJ mixer, laptop, CD player, or portable audio device, but it’s the different positions with Auto EQ that schools will find useful.

The Bose S1 Pro Multi-Position PA System provides 40 watts of power, which is evenly distributed no matter how you position the PA, whether as a monitor, on a speaker stand or tilted back. The Auto EQ function instantly senses the position in which the speaker is placed and automatically adjusts to the optimal equalization curve so you get the best sound possible. This means you can use the PA for a wide range of functions, including rehearsal, performance, public speaking and theatre productions.

The optional rechargeable lithium-ion battery allows you to perform anywhere for hours. You can store the battery in its dedicated compartment and use the Quick Charge function before performance. Furthermore, you can daisy chain these speakers together to create a full PA setup.

4. JBL EON ONE Pro All-In-One Portable PA System

JBL EON ONE Pro All-In-One Portable PA System

If you need a highly portable PA system for a variety of different applications, the JBL EON ONE Pro All-In-One Portable PA System is ideal. This is consistently relied upon by performers and public speakers thanks to its lightweight construction at just 17kg, rechargeable lithium-ion battery which provides up to 6 hours use - perfect for assemblies, theatre productions and more. The extremely powerful line array design ensures every member of your audience hears the same thing - this is total quality of sound.

The JBL EON ONE Pro All-In-One Portable PA System also provides Bluetooth pairing of your devices so you can stream music to the PA speaker, ideal for playing music in outdoor applications and assemblies. Weighing in at just 17kg, you’ll have no problem moving this around or setting it up. The 7 channel mixer allows you to sculpt your sound, hook up line level instruments and microphones thanks to +48V phantom power whilst the line output means you can cascade multiple speakers together. Ideal for any application where you need to be heard and want to set up with zero-fuss and a great option for performing live in assembly or addressing assembly.

3 Best wireless microphones for school PA systems

Now that we’ve covered the speakers and mixers for school PA systems, you’ll need a microphone so you can be heard. However, wired microphones are not always the best choice due to the fact you might need to move around the grounds or classroom. So right now, we’re going to look at 3 of the best wireless microphones for school PA systems that will provide the best sound possible whether you’re speaking or singing.

1. Shure GLXD24UK / SM58 Digital Wireless Microphone System

Shure GLXD24UK / SM58 Digital Wireless Microphone System

First up we have the Shure GLXD24UK / SM58 Digital Wireless Microphone System, which provides professional quality sound and quick automatic set ups between receiver and transmitter. Best of all, they work with Shure SB902 rechargeable batteries which can charge themselves via the Shure GLXD Wireless System when the microphone/bodypack is not in use. In fact, if you opt for an extra battery, you can charge one battery whilst using the other and swap between each one when necessary, ensuring you’re never without power.

The Shure GLXD24UK / SM58 Digital Wireless Microphone System utilises the 2.4ghz frequency (Wi-Fi), so you don’t need a licence to use it. This means you save yourself £75 per year by using this frequency. You can read more about licenses here. The good thing about this radio mic is the fact it constantly searches for the best frequency meaning you don’t get any drop outs in signal should interference occur – it makes the necessary changes without you ever knowing.

In addition, Its just £45 for a rechargeable battery, which provides 10,000 hours of rechargeable power equivalent to 2,500 AA batteries. When you think about it, 2500 AA batteries cost around £1041 (based on pack of 24 at £10) – so you save a LOT of money over time!

An industry standard microphone and wireless radio mic system that is easy to set up and even easier to use!

Learn more about Shure wireless mic systems here.

2. Line 6 XD-V75 Digital Wireless Microphone System

Line 6 XD-V75 Digital Wireless Microphone System

The Line 6 XD-V75 Digital Wireless Microphone System is also one of the best wireless mics for schools, especially those who are more musically inclined as it has 10 Modeling-Presets of industry standard microphone capsules built in including the likes of the Shure SM58, Beta 58, SM57, Sennheiser E835, E935, AKG D5, Audio Technica AE4100, Audix OM5, Electro-Voice N/D767a and Line6 microphones. This means you can utilise the mic in a variety of different ways and enjoy the sonic subtleties of each microphone – ideal for singers, recording guitars and colleges with recording studios.

Best of all it runs on the 2.4 GHz frequency so you don’t need a licence to use the radio mic and you’re never without a signal. The 2.9ms latency is ideal, especially for singing and public speaking as it provides instant relay.

3. Rode RODELink Performer Kit Wireless Microphone System

Rode RODELink Performer Kit Wireless Microphone System

Finally, we have the Rode RODELink Performer Kit Wireless Microphone System. This kit gives you everything you need to enjoy wireless sound straight out of the box thanks to the fact you get a wireless microphone, receiver and rechargeable LB-1 Lithium-Ion battery.

The 2.4 GHz Digital Transmission allows you to run the wireless mic on the free to use Wi-Fi channel, so there’s no licence required. The wireless mic instantly sets itself up, selecting the strongest signal at all times so your sound is uninterrupted – you even have a wireless 100m range, making it ideal for outdoor applications. The super-cardioid condenser capsule ensures high quality vocals and rejection of any ambient noise either side of the microphone, so your vocals will be heard loud and clear.

Bonus: Full 2 Year UK Warranty when you buy at PMT Online - Extended upon Registration!

wireless handheld mics

Get the best school PA system to suit your bespoke needs

If you’re wondering where the best school sound system and PA installation company near you is, look no further as our dedicated school PA system installation team can help create a complete school sound system solution to suit your bespoke need and the needs of your department. Our friendly team are experienced in all aspects of school sound system installation and will be happy to advise on all aspects of school PA systems and complete school sound systems.

Here at PMT, we specialise in helping schools, colleges and universities get the best PA system to suit their needs. We have a deep understanding of exactly what education departments need to get the best out of their sound system, whether it’s for indoor or outdoor use and our PA experts in store and online are on hand to advise on the best choice for you. We can handle everything from a single set of battery powered, portable PA speakers, to a complete school sound system set up including fitting of powered PA speakers, mixers, wireless microphones, cables and more.

If you’re looking for the best deals on school PA systems, installations or just some advice on creating a bespoke school sound system bundle, speak to your local PA expert in any of our local PMT Stores, or call our team now on 0151 448 2089.

PA AND LIVE SYSTEMS

Stagg SPS-0620 BK PA Speaker Stands with Carry Bag

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Hercules SS200BB Speaker Stand Set + Bag

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QSC K Series Subwoofer Cover

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RCF Evox 5 Protective Speaker Cover

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QSC KW122 Speaker Cover

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Yamaha Stagepas 600I Cover

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Bose S1 Pro Battery Pack

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Klotz GRK1FM1000 10m XLR to XLR Microphone Cable, Black

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