Best option for a cheap (under $200) PA System for a block party?
June 14, 2006 2:45 PM   Subscribe

What's my best option for a cheap (under $200) PA System for a block party?

Our needs are fairly simple - we need it to make announcements (the three-legged race starts in 5 minutes!) and maybe play a little music for our neighborhood's 4th of July block party.

The neighborhood association has a limited budget - can this be done for under 200? Should I drag out my guitar practice amp and buy a cheap vocal mic? Maybe an old stereo with a mic patched in?

I found this - the Pignose Lil PA, but is that going to suck? They don't carry it at the store near me, so I couldn't check it out.
posted by pjhagop to Shopping (11 answers total)
Yeah, go with what you have. Forget buying that for 119, it won't last long enough and probably won't do the job you want.
posted by bigmusic at 2:53 PM on June 14, 2006

I think a boom box and a mic will handle it.
posted by COD at 3:00 PM on June 14, 2006

Have you considered renting? If you're only using it once, it should be quite a bit cheaper to rent a low-end PA than to buy something usable. A quick look at a local events rental company site shows a price range of $25-150 per day for PA systems. I have no idea if that includes mics or not.
posted by danblaker at 3:06 PM on June 14, 2006

Do they still make Mr. Microphone? Just tune in a radio to the right frequency and presto, instant PA.

Hey baby, we'll be back to pick you up later....
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:09 PM on June 14, 2006

Yeah, on that budget, you want to rent.
posted by Jairus at 3:39 PM on June 14, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, InfidelZombie. Looks like I'm in for some lovin'.

I did forget to mention that ideally we'll use this more than once. That doesn't change the low budget, but does make renting less attractive, since we'll be in the same boat for future events....
posted by pjhagop at 4:21 PM on June 14, 2006

Huh, what about something like this craigslist posting from Philly?

Most boomboxes would not be up to snuff for something like this, but the JVC Kaboom might be a good option. It's got high output and aux-inputs.
posted by adamrice at 5:07 PM on June 14, 2006

find a DJ who wants exposure and has his own equipment.

he gets to hand out business cards and flyers and push his crappy CDs. You get free equipment.
posted by Megafly at 5:14 PM on June 14, 2006

I haven't used that item in particular, but I can speak to the high quality of Pignose amps in general. I don't think you need to worry about it sucking. It might even be overkill. You'd get by just fine using your guitar amp and a microphone. But that's a good price for a good piece of equipment if you're going to have continuing PA needs. And the portability may just end up being a life saver.

Some sort of short range radio broadcast really would be ideal, since you could just set up several radios at different locations, but I don't know of any products that do that. Probably because there's FCC regulation over radio broadcast, even over a short range. Might be worth searching for, though.
posted by team lowkey at 5:25 PM on June 14, 2006

Do they still make Mr. Microphone? Just tune in a radio to the right frequency and presto, instant PA.

Not so easy here in NY, where all the frequencies are taken.

A mic into the line in on a stereo should be sufficient.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:41 PM on June 14, 2006

I've heard tell that big foreign-made television sets have fantastic speakers, so if you live near an affluent neighborhood and have a little technological know-how, it's possible to rip the speakers out of discarded televisions and wire them together into sound systems that are simply amazing in their power and clarity. I'd not heard of it before a friend told me, but I've since had the same sentiment repeated to me from a couple others, so it would seem to be true. If you have the time, ability, and inclination, it would be nearly no-cost (except for, possibly, a mic). Probably not easily portable, though, with all the patch-wiring you'd have to do.
posted by po at 12:51 AM on June 15, 2006

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