Holy Shit I Just Purchased a Public Address System!

I’m spending serious money on my music career now. Well, serious for a chronically underfunded person like me.

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In early 2018 when I decided I wanted to get back into music after an extended absence, there was really no cost of reentry. I had my trusty Breedlove acoustic guitar and the skills to write, sing and play. I figured I could hit the local open mics and try stuff out without spending more than a few bucks here and there on bar food and beer. Just show up with my guitar, put my name on the list and do the thing. So that’s what I have been doing. 

But now things are different. I’ve been playing out fairly frequently and people are paying me money to perform. Things are getting serious. I’ve made some investments in marketing and advertising (business cards, website, Facebook ads, etc.), but those have been relatively minimal. I realized if I was going to keep going, I was going to need to spend some money on gear. 

At open mics, the PA is always supplied. Many of my shows so far have been at venues with house-PA systems, as well. For shows without PA setups, I’ve relied on friends or fellow performers to provide the necessary gear. 

That isn’t good enough anymore. 

I’ve got gigs coming up that will require me to bring my own system. Some are solo shows where I won’t be able to rely on fellow performers to bring the necessary gear. Some are events that I’m hosting, where I will need to have a good-sounding setup to not only get my sounds across, but to ensure the best-possible performances (and performing experiences) from others. 

Having my own PA system will make it possible for me to play anywhere electricity is available, basically. It will also give me more control over my sound and presentation. 

I am not a gear head. At all. I mean, I know my stuff and I know how shit works. But looking at tech specs and stuff just makes me tired. But I had to go through the process and get what I needed. 

So I made some coffee, had a big breakfast, hunkered down, did some research and bought the thing last week. 

I Purchased the Yamaha STAGEPAS 400i 

I was looking at the Fender Passport series initially, but those looked a little chintzy and not really powerful enough for my needs. I looked at stuff on Craigslist here in Albuquerque, too. Yeah, there were some possibilities there, but I didn’t feel like going through the all the, uh, experiences, one has to go through to buy stuff from ABQ strangers. 

I ended up spending about six or seven hours online, reading reviews and whittling down my options. I landed initially on the Yamaha STAGEPAS 400BT after ruling out a bunch of other options for various reasons. But then I noticed that its predecessor, the STAGEPAS 400i could be had for about $250 less. The difference? The 400BT model has Bluetooth connectivity and a fancier reverb circuit. I have no use for Bluetooth (that I know of) for my live performances. And I’m happy to just have any kind of reverb available. So opting for the 400i turned out to be a no brainer. 

Purchasing the less-expensive system made it possible for me to buy some accessories without breaking the bank, too. So I bought some speaker stands, mic stands, cables, DI boxes and microphones. Altogether, I spent $674.61 on my new shit. Not bad! 

I purchased everything from Amazon, which makes me feel a little icky, but not so icky that I wish I had spent $300-400 more locally to obtain the same items. I promise to make the pilgrimage to Lesmen’s one of these days to confess my sins. I suppose I should go see Stan at GuitarVista, too, while I’m at it. 

Anyway… 

Everything arrived between Thursday and Saturday of last week. Today is Tuesday. I have yet to put the thing through its paces, and I’m getting anxious! 

Eager to Power Up 

I’ve done all the unboxing and inspecting and sniffing and manual reading. I just need to set the thing up somewhere in our little house and power it up. I want to hear how loud it gets. I want to hear how the EQ and reverb affect the sound. I want to ensure all the cables and connectors work properly. I want to see what it’s like to run audio via my iPhone through the built-in USB port, which uses channels seven and eight on the mixer. Stuff like that. 

Unfortunately, life has been too busy to plug in and play, so I will continue to be patient. I am keeping the boxes for everything until I get a chance to try it all out. But gee whiz, I am really frigging itching to run some signals through these new circuits! 

My first performance with the setup will be in 10 days. But I will definitely power it up and do some fun stuff before arriving at the venue. 

There’s Always More 

Yes, I just spent a lot of money. Now I’m eager to spend some more! 

I want to purchase a separate monitor speaker so performers can hear themselves more clearly on stage. I also want to get some stage lights and some nicer microphones. I think I’m going to buy a carrying case for the PA and a cart to haul everything, too. And there’s the issue of extension cords and power strips and all that stuff. 

I’m okay with all this. These are useful investments. They will move me closer to my objectives. This stuff will make it possible to provide performances to the people in a manner more closely aligned with my ultimate vision. 

I am just grateful I have the means to invest in my career like I’m doing now. It would not have been possible just a few years ago when I could barely afford to keep oatmeal in my breakfast bowl. It is a privilege to be able to buy gear like this to advance a career that may not earn me a return on my investment. I am honored by the opportunity. 

But I’m also confident that I will get that return on my financial investment. I have to buy a bunch of recording gear soon. I really want to give my friend Byron some money for an amplifier and some pedals when I go electric, too (JUDAS!). And the money to do so has to come from somewhere! So I’m going to go out and play my ass off and make the money and make the connections and make shit happen. So far, so good. Let’s keep it going. 

Thoughts? 

What investments are you making in your endeavors? Are you a musician or performer who has to buy stuff to keep yourself on stage or in the studio? What have you heard about the STAGEPAS 400i system? 

I would love to hear your thoughts about any of this stuff, so please leave a comment below, hit me up on social media or send an email to matt@mattkollock.com. Thanks!

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