This article on setups for your solo act was written originally for the blog at Carvin Amps and Audio. It was focused on COVID limitations but it’s still super relevant for outdoor events, which are always cool! I repost it here with some updates, and encourage you to check out Carvin’s amazing line of products! Also – notification: I sometimes use affiliate links. Some purchases may earn me a commission! 🙂
Whether you’re paring down your full band or your whole act is designed to be solo or a duet, you’ve got a big advantage when it comes to finding places to play. You can keep things nice and simple, which means no matter what the situation, you can sound great with minimal trouble.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways to go about even the simplest setup, and you’ll probably find yourself providing your own sound. So, we’ve put together three different setup ideas you can use for your solo or duo act.
1 – The Single Speaker
In an intimate space or a small outdoor venue, less is more, and sometimes all you need to get the job done is one active loudspeaker with a built-in mixer. If all you’ve got is a guitar and a vocal, you’re set with Carvin Audio’s QX15A 1000w active main/monitor. Just use the instrument input for your guitar and plug your microphone directly into the mic input. Mix to taste and you’re done, no extra mixer needed.
This setup works whether you’re a solo singer/songwriter or a guitar plus singer duet, and if you’re a keyboardist using mono sounds and singing.
This is a workable setup for rehearsals with a band too, and can even work as the vocal amplification with a full band in a small space with no need for a large P.A.
If you need to spread the sound out a little for a slightly larger gig, you can use the Bluetooth linking technology on the QX15A to link two together. This will give you stereo as well, so if you’d rather run your keyboard patches in stereo, just send left to main 1 and right to main 2.
Of course if you need more inputs, you can always add a mixer to the equation, adding as many inputs as you need – you still may not need more than one loudspeaker!
2 – One Main, One Monitor
Believe it or not, there are small venue situations where one main speaker is enough for the audience, but not enough for you to hear properly.
In this case, use two active main/monitors – one for the house and one for you. You could use two of Carvin’s SCX12A active main/monitors, or mix and match with the QX15A, perhaps using the larger speaker for the house.
In this setup, you could use the instrument and mic input on your monitor and use the line out to send to the main. That way you have control over your mix a little closer at hand. Using two QX15A’s, you have Bluetooth linking to allow you to go cable-free.
Insert the aforementioned mixer and the sky’s the limit – multiple guitars, keyboard and guitar, multiple singers. If the act grows, you can always add another SCX12A or two for more monitoring stations.
3 – The Column Array
Just because you’re a small group or a solo act doesn’t mean you will never play for a lot of people. If this is the case and you’re ready to step your game up, a system like Carvin Audio’s TRC200A powered column array system, or its big brothers the TRC400A and TRC600A will give you all the power you could ask for in almost any situation. Combine with SCX12A or QX15A loudspeakers for monitoring, and you’ve got yourself an entire stage setup.
You won’t need this much at coffee houses, but when need to provide sound at bigger venues, a TRC system does the trick.
Just remember when you step up, you’ll need a dedicated mixer to send inputs to the system. But if you’re solo, that can still be as simple as a 4 channel mixer on a table.
Bonus – Plan of action
In case you missed it, there’s a clear plan of attack for starting a new act you plan to grow. Start with one active loudspeaker. That will be plenty to get you playing in a variety of spots. As you grow, you may want a monitor – you can always add one! case you can add another as a monitor. Expanding from there into a simple stereo rig plus one monitor will do you well for a while.
Then, if things really start heating up, you’ll already have a monitoring system ready to go when you make the leap to a bigger column array style system. Add a mixer and you’ll be set for a long time.
Until then, happy gigging!