Laptop speakers for a presentation to 200 people?
June 1, 2016 11:53 AM   Subscribe

I'll be giving a presentation to an audience of approximately 200 people and want to show a video from my laptop. Venue has projector and screen but no speakers.

Are there powered speakers I can buy or rent that would connect to my laptop and be powerful enough for an audience of this size? If so, what should I be looking for in terms of watts, etc. And how would I know whether my laptop is powerful enough to handle the speakers?
posted by gfrobe to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You need a public announcement system. You can probably rent a nice setup but you may also need to have someone run it if you can't. I would see why the venue can't pay for this. They start at $165 per day plus deposit in most places.
posted by parmanparman at 12:01 PM on June 1, 2016

You should be just sending an audio feed into whatever sound setup you end up with as parmanparman suggests if you google PA system rental. Your laptop doesn't need to be powerful enough to handle the sound the speakers are amplifying the sound coming from your computer. Your laptop just needs to have an audio jack. Make sure you explain what you are trying to do to the person who rents this to you so that they know you need a conversion cable from 1/8" to presumably XLR cable or whatever will play nicely with their speaker system. I would also be surprised if the venue is a place that gets rented for this a lot if they don't already have a relationship with a vendor they trust that they can point you towards.
posted by edbles at 12:26 PM on June 1, 2016

Yeah, like parmanparman said, you need a PA system. You can generally rent them from the venue for a pretty exorbitant price, but some areas still have party-type rental stores that can be a little more reasonable.

To answer your second question, your laptop is plenty powerful, it's just a matter of taking the headphone jack and converting it to (probably) RCA audio.
posted by General Malaise at 12:27 PM on June 1, 2016

How are the 200 people going to hear you? Or was that not part of the requirements?
posted by advicepig at 12:56 PM on June 1, 2016

fyi guitar center rents this stuff cheap and easy.

you need essentially a powered speaker with the cable as mentioned to hookup your laptop. a microphone might be nice too (200 people is a lot to cover unless you project like a theatre major)

brands of gear would be Fender Passport or JBL Eon. both have powered speakers, a little plug and play mixer and can handle audio from your laptop and a microphone.

fwiw a fender passport "conference" retails for about $399 and you need a $6 cable to connect the laptop

go hog wild and add a mic and xlr cable

total investment is around maybe $425? so if you plan to do this more than once, just buy it, it's as easy as charging a phone to plug everything and turn up volume slowly until it sounds good without feedback squealing. thats it.
posted by chasles at 1:00 PM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks all. I do have access to a PA that I could bring. As for how I'm going to be heard, the venue (which is a restaurant) says they have a mic but for some reason they say that I cannot connect a laptop to that system.
posted by gfrobe at 1:29 PM on June 1, 2016

fyi guitar center rents this stuff cheap and easy.

Yep, go in to any big music store and ask if they rent this stuff. They will, and they'll probably ask you what you're trying to do. Then they'll guide you to what you need, and grab all the cables/mics/etc.

Don't buy anything, even if you're going to need it multiple times. It's only worth buying a setup if you plan on using it constantly for a long time, or just indefinitely and regularly into the future. This will probably cost you less than $100 to rent from a place like that even, not including the deposit. Venues overcharge, but stores are often pretty damn cheap(have rented subs, or pa gear for shows in bring-your-own-stuff venues)
posted by emptythought at 1:59 PM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

As for how I'm going to be heard, the venue (which is a restaurant) says they have a mic but for some reason they say that I cannot connect a laptop to that system

oh, well hell. then bend the mic over and put it near your laptop speakers. i don't like to admit it but this works fine for short form (A few minute video) and is loads easier/cheaper than anything else.
posted by chasles at 6:02 PM on June 1, 2016

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