Good quality cassette tape machines are adequate for many amateur productions, but for accurate
cueing a reel-to-reel deck is essential.
Compact Disc Player
Good quality domestic Compact Disc players are adequate for stage use.
For smaller venues a combined mixer-amplifier is ideal. The model shown combines a mixer with
three inputs (microphone, instrument / microphone and tape deck) with a mono amplifier.
For larger venues or shows with more exacting sound requirements a power amplifier and separate
audio mixer will be more versatile and give much better sound. The amplifier only has volume
controls and the mixing and other sound controls are all part of a separate mixer desk.
Used for combining a number of separate sound sources (e.g.: tape or CD players, microphones,
electronic instruments etc.) for connection to a power amplifier. Mixers also incorporate balance
and tone controls. Some units will include additional connections for effects units (such as echo
or reverb) or additional amplifiers.
Radio microphones can be of the handheld type (as illustrated), clip on (Lavaliere) or headset
type (as used by fitness instructors and singer/dancers). The receiver unit is plugged in to a
mixer as if it was the microphone. The number of radio microphones you can use is limited by the
number of frequencies available for amateur use (currently seven). However microphones on adjacent
frequencies can interfere with each other.
Good quality speakers are essential, particularly if you have taken the time and trouble to
record high quality music and effects. The speaker illustrated is a typical heavy duty cabinet type
principally designed for use by mobile discos. It is sturdy enough to be used freestanding without
worrying about it falling over and robust enough to take the knocks of being carried about and used
in different locations as required. They can also be placed on stands, which will give better spread
of sound, but will make them susceptible to being knocked over by the less observant members of the
There is a vast array of different types of connectors and cables for sound equipment. In
general most microphones and speakers will be designed to use Jack type plugs. The amplifier and
speaker will both have jack sockets and are connected via cables with a jack plug at both ends.
Professional equipment will usually have XLR type connectors. There are XLR variants for
microphones, speakers and even mains connectors.
Make sure all speaker cables and other wiring is carefully routed and does not interfere with doors and fire exits. Keep wiring off the floor wherever possible and always fix it so that it goes over doorways and entrances, never across the floor.
copyright Leigh Graham 1997-2010.