How To Set Up A Stage Sound System

Live band setting their PA sound system on stage.

What could go wrong in your performance as a band? I think everything can go wrong, especially if the stage sound system is not well set. So, the stage sound system is a crucial element in most performances and events. As such, if you are given the task of setting up the stage sound system, you should carefully plan your setup and meticulously choose the components of the sound system. 

The on stage sound system comes with the typical sound system components like mics, amplifiers, mixers, and loudspeakers, including monitors. Besides, you need to ensure that every component matches the other elements to prevent damage to the components. Such unintended damages to any part may affect the performances or, in the worse case, may bring about the cancellation of gigs.

Simple Steps When Setting Up a Stage Sound System

Your stage sound system setup will depend mainly on what type of event you are preparing for. If the performers, for example, include a full-setup band, you will need an elaborate setup to accommodate the instruments of the band and the multiple mics they are going to use. Below are the different steps on how to set up a stage sound system:

Step 1: Purchase the Perfect PA System

An excellent way to start with your stage setup is to select a great PA system. A PA system should have an input transducer consisting of microphones or line outputs for various instruments. It should also come with amps for amplifying the audio signals. Moreover, it should have an output transducer that includes headsets and speakers. 

However, the number of equipment you can include in your PA system will depend on your band’s requirements. Your band setup, for example, may require you to have a DJ setup with some speakers along with a turntable. Larger gigs, however, may need many equipment and speakers.

Step 2: Setting Up the Monitors and Main Speakers

Setting up the main speakers requires knowledge of how sound works. If the venue is a mid-sized venue, you can position a speaker stand on every side of the stage. It will help if you set the main speakers on stands to disperse their sounds more efficiently throughout the venues and the audience. 

Refrain from placing the stands in front of any obstacle. Such an obstacle may reflect or block the speakers’ sound. It will be best to elevate the speaker’s stands to ensure that the lowest speaker is at the head-level position. 

The speakers should be facing the audience and should be a few feet from the band to prevent mic feedback. It will be helpful also to secure the stands in their places using locking pins. 

The stands you can use to mount the speakers can be a tripod stand. You can also go for ground stacking, in which you position speakers on top of each other. Moreover, you can use scaffolding stands to mount speakers at different heights. You can suspend speakers using a cable. This suspending of speakers using cables is called trussing. 

The speaker’s height is crucial to how the sound is transmitted. If the speakers are too high, however, the front row audience may not hear the sound.

On the other hand, you should position the monitors firmly on the stage floor, facing upward and inward toward the performers. You can use at least two monitors on the stage for a band setup. If you want another one, you can set it up backstage.

Step 3: Set Up Power Drops on Stage

Once you were able to position the monitors and main speakers, you can run power drops or extension cords to the left and right of the stage so that you can run power cabling between the monitors and speakers. You can also use the power drops for powering your guitarist’s foot pedals and any other equipment that requires AC voltage. 

Then, you should connect the subwoofers and run some shorter power cables to the speakers. Make sure you secure the cables to prevent any accidents. Moreover, you can use gaffer tape to secure the wires. You should also ensure that you turn off everything until you have connected each piece of equipment and cable to the mixer.

Step 4: Set Up Your Mixing Console

You should set your mixing console up at a place that is very convenient for you. You don’t need to position your mixer on the stage, for you can set it up anywhere in the room. Nevertheless, don’t set up the mixer far from the stage platform, for you will need to run long cables from the mixer to your stage. 

The good thing about modern mixer technology is that you can find wireless digital mixers that let you control it using your iPad. You can position the digital mixer on stage for connecting all the instruments and vocals. Then, you can control the mixer anywhere you are stationed in the venue using your iPad. 

When setting up the mixer, you will need to run the cables to connect all instruments, mics, and keyboards to your mixer. You can join the cables directly to the guitar amps via the line output of these amps. Moreover, you can mic the amp and connect the amp straight to the mixer. With keyboards and electronic drums, you can utilize the line outputs to connect them to the mixer. 

Make sure that your setup is organized and professional. You should ensure that the cables used by your band in the playing area are off-the stage, away from the foot traffic. 

You can use triad orbit stands for they feature a low profile that can help organize the cables by wrapping the cables around the stands. Another way to lessen clutter on stage is by using a multi-channel snake or stage box. With these snakes and stage box, you can connect the audio sources and microphones using shorter cables to lessen the wires used in the venue.

Step 5: Connecting the Monitors and Speakers to the Mixer

Once you’ve connected the mics and input sources, you can set up the audio connections to the monitors and main speakers from the mixers. Start by running a line from the left speaker to the left output of the mixer. You can also repeat the process for the right speaker.

If you have subwoofers, you can use the pass-thru connection for hooking up the main speakers on the subwoofer’s top. Then, you should hook the monitors to the mixer. 

The positioning of the monitors and the sound they produce should be satisfactory to the performers; otherwise, the performance might be affected. You can adjust the monitors and their volume to ensure that they provide good and audible sounds to the performers.

Step 6: Setting Up a Limiter for Your PA System

You should ensure that your PA system comes with a limiter (headroom). This limiter is usually set at the sound system’s main output to ensure that the signals don’t peak above the ideal level. So, you will need to allow for good headroom to prevent your amplifiers from causing any distortion. 

The live performances usually have a maximum peak level of 25 decibels above the average peak level. Once you go beyond this peak level, you will hear a distorted sound from the amplifiers. So, you will need a limiter to prevent the amps from distorting.

Step 7: Do a Sound Test

The last step when setting up a sound system for the stage is sound checking and testing. You can do a sound test of the entire system to see how each audio signal blends with others. You should also perform the sound test to fine-tune the whole sound system. 

Additionally, you can play a track on any of the channels. Then, try to increase the volume until the speakers are already audible. You can adjust the volume until you reach the right volume level for the venue. 

It will also be useful to do a sound test with the entire band before the live performance. Such sound checking and testing will enable you to figure out what is wrong and right in your setup.


Your stage setup of the sound system can spell the difference in the amplification of the performance sound. So, it will be best if you are very careful in your setup. With the steps mentioned above on setting up a sound system for the stage, you can easily breeze through the setting up process.

The events and types of performance will have a bearing on the type of sound system you will need to set up. As mentioned above, you will need more mics to cover all instruments and vocal needs in a band setup. 

You will also need amps, mixers, monitors, and loudspeakers to complete your setup. You should also ensure that your stage sound system setup is comprehensive yet expandable for future expansion.

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