Deciding on the number of watts you need can be a confusing business! Websites don’t always say whether the wattage of the speakers and amplifiers they’re selling are the Peak power or the RMS, or average continuous power. Peak power can be misleading, as you wouldn’t be able to get that amount out power out of the speakers or amplifier constantly.
You should not have your PA system turned up to its full capacity because any peaks in the music may cause distortion. On the What PA? website, we always show the power in watts RMS – the power it can comfortably and safely deliver over a long period of time, which is what you want.
That makes it easier to compare different speakers and amplifiers, and to decide whether you are getting value for money as well as a system that’s right for your needs.
When you’re trying to decide how many watts you need, you can start with our very basic guide below. There are other factors such as the acoustics in the venue, whether you’re indoors or out, and the sound pressure level (SPL) of the speakers, but we’re trying to keep things simple for you!
A VERY BASIC GUIDE
|Type of use||Watts per audience member|
|Spoken Word (indoor)||0.5 to 1|
|Acoustic Acts, Solo Artist & Duos||2 to 3|
|Bands & Average Sized Venues||3 to 4|
|Loud Bands & Large Venues||4 to 5|