Buying Your Own Wedding Sound System

Sometimes renting a wedding sound system isn’t an option. Maybe you live in a remote area or you’ve picked a wedding date where there aren’t any available systems at your local sound system vendors. In this case, we wanted to show you what we’d generally recommend from an equipment standpoint. You could purchase these items and sell them on Amazon or Craigslist after the wedding as ‘Like New’ for anywhere between 50% and 75% of what you paid, depending on the item. So in the end, it might make more sense to go this route, actually, depending on what your local sound company is quoting you for a rental of items like this.

Alternatively, you might have a whole group of brides want to go in on the purchase of this stuff, then share it amongst each other, and finally sell it online, splitting the proceeds. This has been called a few things, but ‘Bride Sharing’ is becoming more and more common, and it seems like that’s the term that people are giving it.

We thought it might be a good idea to summarize and list out the things that you’ll need, in the event occurs where you’re having a hard time finding a sound system rental. Let’s dive in!


 

Headphone to RCA Converter

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This is an item that you’re definitely going to need, regardless of what final system you end up selecting. This allows you to connect anything that has a headphone jack – an iPod, an iPhone, a laptop – whatever – right into the mixer that feeds the main system. You may already have one of these cables laying around, for all you know, or you may be able to borrow one from a friend. Post a message to your facebook feed asking if anyone has one laying around, you might not even need to buy one… but you’re definitely going to need one, so make sure you have it before the big day.

I think that this is the kind of thing you’re going to be glad to have in years to home. RCA connections have been around for decades and I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon. You’ll find a need for it sooner or later. I’m not going to bother listing its resale value on Amazon because like I said, everyone should have one of these.


A Microphone of Some Sort

If you’ve got someone who’s going to be doing the introductions, the MCing, or announcements, it can be nice to have a microphone handy so your point-person doesn’t end up having to raise their voice too much. We try to keep our announcements rather calm-sounding, and it’s hard to sound calm when you’re trying to shout to get everyone’s attention. Microphones help mitigate that. You have a few options, but I’m listing some things below that we either have direct experience with using, or stuff that seems like it would work for a budget application; chances are good that aside from testing it out a few weeks in advance, you’re not going to use it again, and you’ll be selling it back on Amazon or Craigslist. So we’re not really talking about ‘super-heavy-duty’ stuff here. Just stuff that’ll work fine for a reception – toasts, announcements, etc.

      1. Nady DKW DUO HT/B/D VHF Dual Receiver Handheld Microphone System41IEIIUa1WL._SL160_
        This was the first wireless system that we used when we started our DJ business, and it’s still going strong. I sold audio equipment for years, and even when we went to buy it, I was shocked that it was 2 channels of wireless mic action for less than $50.  Like I said, it still works just fine. It uses 9V batteries, but most lower end systems are going to. This unit has a single 1/4″ connector on the rear of the unit, so you’ll want to make sure that your audio system has 1/4″ inputs on it. Unfortunately, getting a 1/4″ to XLR cable is really an option here, because of technical reasons that aren’t really worth discussing. Just make sure that your mixer has 1/4″ inputs and you’ll be okay with this unit.Another neat aspect of this unit is that there are units that are used on Amazon being sold for nearly what you’d pay for it new, meaning that you’re not going to lose a lot of money buying it and then reselling it used on Amazon after the fact.
      2. NADY SP-4C Dynamic Microphone
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        This would be a slightly more cost-effective, budget approach to the microphone situation. This one’s only $10, and looks like used ones are selling on Amazon for close to what you’d pay new. That’s pretty sweet. We used to sell these when I worked in audio, and they’ll totally do the job for your DIYReception. One of the reviews on Amazon said that it was hard to hear the mic when it was plugged in with its included 1/4″ termination plug. If you get into a similar situation, and have an XLR/mic input on your mixer/sound-system, do not panic. Just buy one of these.

 

 The Sound System

This is the main event. Now, when you’re renting from a sound company, you’ll probably be looking at slightly different things than what I’m about to show you below. Please keep in mind that these items are items that I’ve seen work for couples who want to do weddings on their own – We can confidently recommend them, with a single caveat to the one, marked with an *. A sound company might be giving you more speakers, or a mixer as part of the package, etc. This is ok – rental rigs are different and might be more powerful than these. These below represent some handpicked selections that we’d recommend to our friends, but they in no way would be able to:

  • Fill a large, large, large room with sound
  • Fill a huge tent with sound

These are rigs that would work great for smaller applications, seeing as they’re smaller systems. What would happen is you’d end up turning the unit way, way up onto its louder side, which would distort the sound. That’s not something anyone wants. I’d recommend these for a smaller room – if you’re leaning towards an outdoor ceremony/reception, or your room will be seating more than 100 people, I’d shy away from buying your own, just because your budget’s probably better used renting an actual, powerful DJ system from somewhere local.

    1. Harbinger HA60 PA System41M+dPfqCvL._SL160_
      This is something that we use nearly every weekend for ceremonies, and in a pinch, we’ve been able to use it for smaller receptions, too. It’s also the rig that we illustrate the setup of in our complete, ultimate, awesome how-to guide. This unit has the RCA inputs for your iPod or Laptop (with that cable we talked about earlier), and also 1/4″ and XLR inputs for any mic or instrument you’d want to connect. This one is probably also the easiest to figure out out of any of the options that you’ll find on Amazon. We highly recommend it, it’s served us well for the past few years.
    2. Behringer EUROLIVE B205D Active 150-Watt PA/Monitor Speaker System51EGSyP90IL._SL160_
      This one is a little smaller – I’ve used this one for personal monitoring in a live music situation, and it also has come in handy for cocktail hours, too. If your room is smaller, or you’re just looking to add music to a single room, say, 50 people, this would do the job. It has the RCA, 1/4″, and XLR inputs for your mics, your iPod, your Laptop, etc. It’s a smaller speaker than the Harbinger system above though, and since it’s only one (smaller) speaker, you’re not going to be getting throbbing, floor-shaking bass from this one. Just keep that in mind. Still would work just fine for creating a party, though, especially if you’re on a budget and would rather have some music than no music.
    3. PYLE-PRO PPHP159WMU 15-Inch 1600-Watt Bluetooth PA Loudspeaker with 2 Wireless Mics, FM Radio, LCD Readout, USB and SD Card Readers*519ucaUJFhL._SL160_
      I put an asterisk next to this one because I’ve never used it, heard it, or seen it in person. I only include it because its feature list is ridiculously long, and seems like it would be worth checking out. I don’t EVER endorse PYLE equipment – they’re the awful, cheap crap that DJ’s hate to use and quickly graduate away from, and if you look on Amazon for PYLE DJ stuff, you’ll find that the reviews are less than amazing. However, this unit doesn’t have awful reviews, and it’s not terribly expensive, so if you were looking to try it out well in advance, I’d be curious. In the coming weeks, I plan to purchase one and evaluate it for these purposes, but I’m including it because it truly could be a diamond in the rough. Plus, it seems to include wireless microphones, so there’d be no need to buy those separately. I’m cautiously interested in this little guy for these purposes, and will report back as I learn more.

 

Well, there you have it! Between getting that headphone converter cable, some kind of mic system, and some kind of sound system, you’d be all set. When reselling on Amazon, I’d expect to get a little more than half of what you paid new. Depending on your needs, the scarcity of sound rental companies, and other factors, it might make more sense to go the ‘buy then sell’ route than the rental route.

As always, feel free to contact us with specific questions about how to set up these units. We highly recommend doing tests a few days/weeks before the main event so you have time to work out any bugs in the systems before it becomes a crisis. In the case of rental units, it’s a good idea to ask if they’d been tested since their last return. We’ve gotten burned by that in the past.

Thanks for reading!

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