Should I Hire Or Buy A PA System? (What to know)

For many events, a PA system is necessary for sound amplification. It may come as a shock, but not all performance venues have their own PA system installed. 

I have been to a lot of bars and conference rooms where there is no amplification already installed. 

In these cases, you may need to bring your own amplification in the form of a PA system in order to be heard.

Whether you hire or buy a PA system depends on your frequency of use. If you only use a PA system occasionally, for example, less than 8 times a year, then it could be more cost-effective to hire. 

There are several factors to consider before purchasing or hiring a PA system, such as power requirements, portability, and whether a subwoofer is necessary. 

Everyone’s needs are different, so it is important to consider all the pros and cons of owning a PA system and decide what is the right option for you.

In this article I will cover:

  • Is a PA system necessary?
  • Should I hire or buy a PA system?
  • How much does it cost to hire a PA system?

Is A PA System Necessary?

If you are projecting sound to an audience and want to be clearly heard, then a PA system is necessary.

When it comes to deciding how large your audience needs to be before you need a PA system can be tricky, as this will depend on what type of sound you are trying to amplify and in what environment. 

From my experience, I would say that for any event with over 50 people in attendance, you will need some form of sound reinforcement. 

Ask yourself, can I project sound clearly to everyone in the venue with no amplification? If not, then you need a PA system. 

The type of event also matters; large outdoor concerts will require much larger and more powerful systems than small indoor gatherings.

It is important to consider the room size, audience size and location of your event when deciding if you need a PA system.

Should I Hire Or Buy A PA System?

PA systems are an enormous investment, therefore, whether you buy or hire a PA system is an important consideration.

Hiring a PA system is a great way to get a good PA system for your event without worrying about the details, such as where to store it long term, whether it will work on the night and how to keep it maintained. 

As a general rule, it costs at least £70 (although costs vary dramatically) to rent a basic PA system and around £1300 to buy a good PA system. Therefore, if you hire more than 13 times, you will have paid for your PA system.

Buying or hiring a PA system will come down to answering the following questions:

  1. Do you use a PA system enough to justify a purchase?
  2. Can you store the PA system?
  3. Can you easily repair the PA system?

Below is a list of the pros and cons of owning or hiring a PA system.

The Pros Of Owning A PA System

  • If you use it regularly, it is far more cost-effective.
  • You can have better control over your sound as you get familiar with what your specific PA is capable of. This is really useful for musicians in particular.
  • You are independent and not reliant on a PA system being available for hire on the night you want. Again, this is important for touring bands in particular. 

The Cons Of Owning A PA System

  • PA systems are expensive to buy upfront. 
  • PA systems are large and bulky to store. You need to have the space to store it.
  • PA systems, like all electronics, break down. If you own a PA system, you will be responsible for maintenance and ensuring that it is always working well. 

The Pros Of Hiring A PA System

  • You can test various PA systems from small to large to see what works for you.
  • Hiring is a great way to get familiar with PA systems and learn how they work before committing to a purchase.
  • You do not have to worry about long-term storage.
  • You do not have to worry about long-term maintenance. When you hire a PA system for a night, it should be fully functional and ready to go.
  • You can often get very high-quality PA systems for hire. This is a great way to get your hands on a high-quality PA system that might usually be out of your price range.
  • Most PA hire companies will offer extra advice with your PA hire so you know that you have the right size and power for your venue and event. 
  • For extra, you can include delivery and setup costs, which takes the stress out of transporting the PA yourself and trying to work out how to set it up. 

The Cons Of Hiring A PA System

  • If you use a PA system regularly, then it will be less cost-effective in the long run to hire. 
  • There is the extra hassle of booking, picking up and returning a PA system to a specific location and ensuring that it is in good condition when you return it. 
  • If you are not familiar with a new PA system, it may not sound as good as you hoped. As a band, your sound will change regularly, which can cause less audio control.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A PA System?

The cost of PA hire depends on the size of the PA, the application, and if delivery and setup are included. 

On average, PA hire costs as low as £70 per day for a simple presentation system and can increase to over £520 per day for large events such as corporate events or large gigs. 

The following table shows how much it costs to hire a PA system in the UK, based on data and quotations, without delivery or setup costs included. 

Audience SizeApplicationCost Per Day
75Presentation / Exhibitions / Birthdays£70 – £120
100Conferences / Seminars / Exhibitions£90 – £200
150Wedding Reception / DJs / Disco / Bar£150 – £300
400Discos / Corporate eventsPOA (This cost varies so much, it needs to be quoted on an event basis) 

Final Thoughts    

When deciding whether to buy or hire a PA system, it’s important to consider all factors, including the size and location of your event as well as how many people are attending. 

The amount of power is also important; low wattage could mean poor sound quality while too much power could create feedback issues with microphones and other equipment used during your event. 

Finally, depending on which instruments are being played at the event, you might add a subwoofer for extra low-end frequency support; this could help make sure everyone in the audience hears their favourite songs clearly and accurately. This matters when it comes to PA for music.

For most PA users, it comes down to cost. If you are a regular PA user, it will be cheaper in the long run to buy, however, for infrequent use, hiring is a better short terms solution.

Happy listening!

Engineer Your Sound

We love all things audio, from speaker design, acoustics to digital signal processing. If it makes noise, we are passionate about it.

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