Pacific Bonsai Museum PA System Instructions

Download printable instructions HERE.

These instructions will show you how to set up, operate and troubleshoot the Pacific Bonsai Museum’s Public Address (PA) system.  There is an index in the video description to help you find the section you need.  Please watch this video at least once prior to using the equipment, refer to it as needed for troubleshooting, and use it to ensure all parts are properly stored and ready for use at the next event.


There are three cases which contain the complete system.  Please note how everything is organized.

  • Case #1 contains the main PA system.  One of the speakers contains the mixer/amplifier, and the other contains the main power cord and speaker cables.  For storage, the cables should be coiled loosely, as shown.  The case weights about 45 pounds, so use the wheels and handle to move it, and get assistance if needed for loading in a vehicle or lifting the speakers (20 pounds each) onto the stands.
  • Case #2 contains the two speaker stands and two microphone stands with mic clips.  The bag will close easily if the stands are properly arranged.  Do not force the zipper as this can damage the stand bag. Total weight is about 20 pounds, so consider using the shoulder strap.
  • Case #3 weighs about 25 pounds and contains the microphones, cables, and accessories.  Please pay attention to how the items are arranged and be sure to store them in the same manner.
    • The tray contains the wired microphone, the wireless microphone, CD-player cable, and spare batteries.  If the wireless microphone’s batteries are replaced, DO NOT put the depleted batteries back in the case.  Dispose of them properly and inform Pacific Bonsai Museum that new spares are needed.  Use only Lithium batteries, which last much longer and do not leak when stored without use.  This is important to prevent damage to the equipment. The top of the case lid has foam on one side to help keep these items from moving during transport. 
    • The lower compartment is divided.  The section on the handle-end is for the wireless receiver and its power supply.  The next section is for the microphone cables.  The section on the wheel-end is for the 50-foot extension cord, surge protector/outlet strip and a roll of gaffer’s tape for taping down cables to prevent tripping.  Please inform the Pacific Bonsai Museum if the tape is running low.  Coil all cables in large loops like this, and secure with the attached cable ties.  DO NOT wrap them up like a noose.  This kills cables and makes them difficult to lay flat.


Loosen the lower knob on the speaker stands, spread the legs wide, then tighten the knob.  They should not be placed all the way back in the corners of a room.  If you will be using microphones, they should be even with or a little forward of the mics, but not behind.  When deciding on placement, consider that the speaker cables are 20-feet long and must run up the stands to the speakers, and to the amp/mixer if it is on a desk, table, or remains locked into the speaker. 

Each speaker weighs about 20 pounds.  If you are not comfortable lifting this with one hand, recruit some help to mount the speakers.  To lighten the load, remove the mixer and cable storage from the speakers before lifting.  Loosen the upper knob and remove the safety pin.  Grip the pole tightly and lift the speaker upward using the pole until you have exposed the third hole (for a seated audience) or the fifth hole (for a standing or large audience.  DO NOT lift beyond the STOP mark or the center pole may come completely out!  Place the safety pin completely through the hole, let the pole and speaker rest on the pin, then tighten the knob.

The amplifier/mixer can be placed on a table for easy access or left in the speaker for events in tight spaces. The speakers can be splayed outward for coverage of larger open spaces.  Before connecting, make sure the power switch is OFF, and all knobs and buttons are set to their starting positions, as shown in the quick-start guide.

Connect the speaker cables to the speakers and use the cable ties to neatly route them down the pole and flat on the floor to prevent snagging or tripping. Connect the other end to the MAIN OUT left and right.

Connect the mixer power cable to the surge suppressor/power strip and plug this into the provided extension cord.  Do not use any other power cables, and do not use if damaged, or in wet conditions.

The straight mic stand is best for standing performers or use by people of varying heights.  Loosen the knob on the leg assembly then pull it down to the bottom of the stand.  Tighten the knob and extend the legs.  To adjust the height, hold the upper, narrower part of the stand in one hand, and loosen the clutch by turning counterclockwise.  Raise the stand to the desired height, then tighten the clutch.  So the performer can be seen, usually the mic is slightly lower than the mouth, pointing up at a shallow angle.  Best results happen if the mic is no further than 1-2 inches from the mouth.

If a second microphone is needed for another voice or for an instrument, the boom stand is raised and lowered the same way.  The angle of the boom is adjusted by loosening dog-bone handle.  The length of the boom and rotation of the mic clip is adjusted by loosening the small knob near the pivot.  One leg of the boom stand should be lined up with the boom arm to prevent tipping.  DO NOT attempt to adjust any part of the boom stand without loosening the appropriate clutch or knob, one-at-a-time, to prevent damage or tipping.

Best placement of the microphones is in line with or behind the speakers to avoid nasty feedback squeal.  Use the clothespin-style mic clips to attach the mics.  For the wired mic, connect the long cable with gold ends to the microphone and the other end to CHANNEL 1 of the mixer.  For the wireless mic, connect the receiver power supply to the surge suppressor/outlet strip, and connect the short cable from the receiver to CHANNEL 2.

Be sure to tape down any loose cables in traffic areas, to avoid trip hazards.  If the microphone is to be handed around, opt for the wireless mic instead of the wired mic.  Make a small flap at one end to help pull it up after the event.  When later removing the tape, DO NOT pull on the cord to lift the tape.  If it wraps around and sticks to itself, It takes a lot of work to remove.  Cords must be stored tape-free, so lift the tape from the floor and the cord and this will not be a problem.


Before powering up the system, check your connections again.  Make sure all knobs and buttons are set to their starting positions, as shown in the quick-start guide.  Turn on the power switch.  If the power does not come on, check that the surge protector is also turned on, and that the extension cord is plugged into a live outlet.

To use the wired microphone, start by turning the CHANNEL 1 gain to 5, or straight up.  Now start turning up the MAIN volume slowly while saying “test, check 1, 2, 3” at a conversational level, with the mic pointed directly at your mouth, about 1-2 inches away.  These aren’t just silly words, they contain plosives, sibilants, and problem frequencies of a PA system, which help you set levels quickly.  Once you start to hear your voice, the volume will increase quickly, so be careful not to induce annoying feedback squeal.  If you are not noticeably loud without feedback by the time the volume is halfway or straight up, increase the microphone gain slightly.  Your optimum MAINS volume should be with the knob at about 7, leaving you with some headroom to make it a little louder if needed later.  The red “limit” lights can light occasionally but not be solid.

If using the wireless mic, turn on the transmitter by pressing UP on the switch at the base of the mic, until the green light comes on.  The receiver must match the transmitter channel, so check that the display says 1-1.  Now turn on the receiver, and check that the display says 1-1.  If it does not, use the band and channel buttons to make it so.  The green wireless-signal LED should be solid green.  Set the volume on the receiver unit to 5.  Set the level on CHANNEL 2 as you did for the wired mic on channel 1 by slowly turning up the gain while saying “test, check, 1, 2, 3” until it is as loud as you set for the other mic (it should be around 5).  Pay attention to feedback and remember to turn down the active mic channel, not the MAINS if it starts to squeal.  Engage the MUTE switch when the mic is not in use.  Don’t forget to turn the transmitter OFF at the end of the event.

To play background music from your phone, laptop, CD player or other device, connect the small plug to the headphone port or your device, and the white/red connectors to CHANNEL 7/8.  Press the selector switch on to the UP position for CD IN.  Set your device’s volume to about 70%, start playing music, and slowly turn up channel 7/8 until music is at the desired level.

The mixer has a built-in MP3 player, if your tracks are on a USB memory stick.  Plug it into the USB connector at the left of the mixer, next to the control buttons for shuffle, play/pause, previous and next.  Press the selector switch on CHANNEL 7/8 to the DOWN position for MP3 PLAYER.  The tracks play in alphabetical order through any folder structure unless shuffle is selected, in which case you may hear the same track more than once. 

A handy feature of this system is the “VOP” or voiceover-priority switch.  When this is engaged, the music on channel 7/8 will be lowered when there is signal through the microphones.  This allows you to make announcements without touching the mixer.  Just un-mute the mic and make your announcement.  The music will come back up when you are done with the announcement.  Don’t forget to mute the mic again.

Electronic instruments and line-level pre-amps may be connected to channels 3 and 4 using the ¼-inch jacks and setting the input switch to LINE.  Cables are not provided for this.


In all cases when the PA system is not working properly, start by setting the knobs and switches to their starting positions from the quick-start guide.  Make sure everything is connected and all components are powered on.

If the mixer/amp lights don’t come on with the power switch, check again if all power cords are plugged in, that the surge-suppressor/outlet strip is switched on, and that the extension cord is connected to a live outlet.

If the wired mic is not working, check that the mute switch is not engaged. Make sure CHANNEL 1 input switch is set to MIC, not LINE.  If it still doesn’t work or you get loud crackle when handling the mic, switch to the backup cable and inform the museum that a cable needs repair.

If the wireless mic is not working, check that it is powered on, and the battery indicator shows at least one bar and that the mute switch is not engaged.  Change the batteries if needed.  In the battery compartment, check that the pad switch is set to 0dB, all the way to the right.  Check that the channel display on the mic matches the receiver.  Correct the receiver to match the mic if necessary and ensure the volume is set to 5.  If the receiver is not powered on, make sure the power supply is connected to the receiver and the surge-protector/outlet strip.  Make sure CHANNEL 2 input switch is set to MIC, not LINE.  If all else fails, switch to the wired mic as a backup. 

There are 3 microphone cables in the kit. One ten-foot with gold connectors for the wireless receiver, one 25-foot with gold connectors for the wired microphone, and one 25-foor with silver connectors which can be used as a backup for either of the primary cables.  Please inform the museum if you encounter cable issues.

If music is not playing from your phone, laptop or other device connected to channel 7/8, make sure the selector switch is set to CD IN or UP.  Starting with the channel turned all the way down, play music on your device, making sure that it is actively playing (usually a right-arrow icon) not paused (usually a two-lines icon).  Turn up the volume on your device to at least 70% of max.  Now slowly bring up channel 7/8.  If by the time you reach level 7 on the mixer the music is not loud enough, turn it back down, turn up your device higher, and try again.

If the sound is too loud, muddy, or unintelligible, first try turning down the mains.  If it is boomy, turn down the BASS on the active mic.  If it is harsh and hissy, turn down the TREBLE.

If there is a strange echoing sound like you are in a big concert hall, make sure the REVERB switches are UP (off).

That loud squealing sound from PA systems which we’ve all heard and hate is called “feedback.”  It is sound from the speakers “feeding back” into the mic, and this loop causes the problem.  If you encounter feedback, quickly turn down the active mic, not the main volume.  Do not cover the mic with your hand, this will make it worse.  The microphones are unidirectional, meaning they pick up sound mostly from the front.  Make sure the mic is not pointing at the speakers or close to a wall in front of the speakers.  Don’t hold the mic around the head (known as “cupping”) as this makes the mic more omni-directional and prone to feedback.  If using the mic in front of the speakers, such as out in the audience, make sure it is always pointed away from the speakers.  Use the MUTE switch on the mic when not in use.


Follow these steps to properly disconnect, store and transport the PA system.

  • Turn all knobs to their starting positions from the quick-start guide before switching off the mixer/amp.
  • Don’t forget your USB memory stick if you were playing MP3s.
  • Make sure the wireless mic transmitter is turned off.
  • Disconnect all cables at all ends from the mixer, speaker, microphones, receiver, and any accessories.
  • Pull up any gaffer tape from the floor or equipment.  Do not pull on the cables to lift the tape, or you will spend a lot of time cleaning up a sticky mess.  Cables must be returned and stored tape-free.
  • Coil all cables in large loops, like at the start of this video, and use the Velcro straps.
    • Extension cords should be about 12-in loops, about the size of a large dinner plate or LP record
    • Microphone and speaker cables should be about 7-in loops, like a salad plate or 45-RPM record.
  • Put the extension cord at the bottom of the large section, with the gaffer tape and surge protector strip.
  • Put the microphone cables in the middle section.
  • Put the microphones, receiver, power supply and all accessories into their proper sections of the case.
  • Loosen the clutch to make the mic stands short.  For the boom stand, angle the boom so it lays against the main section, and adjust the length to make it short as possible.  Leave the mic clips attached.
  • Retract the legs, loosen the knob, and slide the leg assembly up to make the folded stand smaller.
  • Loosen the upper knob on the speaker stand.  With one hand, firmly grip and lift up on the pole slightly, then pull out the safety pin and gently lower the speaker using the pole. 
  • Remove the speakers from the poles.
  • Loosen the lower knob on the speaker poles, then slide the leg assembly up to retract.
  • The speaker stands and both mic stands will fit in the storage bag is properly placed.  There is no need to force the zipper, which could permanently damage the bag.
  • Place the speakers face-down in the wheeled case, feet toward the wheels.
  • Store the mixer in the back of the lower speaker.  Slide it in straight about halfway, engage the lower tabs into the slots, and press on the top as you turn the latches.  They will make a CLICK when latched.
  • Store the amp power and speaker cables in the other speaker.  Replace the cover and turn the latches.
  • When you return the PA system, inform the Pacific Bonsai Museum of any problems you encountered, any damaged or defective components, if supplies are low (such as gaffer tape) or batteries were used.


  • Check that all items were returned and are stowed in their proper compartments and cases
  • Turn on the wireless mic to check the battery status (and confirm it has been switched off)
  • Replace the transmitter batteries if needed.  Replenish the spares if they were used.
    • Use only Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries.  They last twice as long and do not leak.
  • Before storage, check that all cables are coiled in large, loose loops, not tight nooses
  • Re-coil if needed.  Storing improperly coiled can create memory, making them difficult to lay flat later.
  • If problems were reported by the user, address these as appropriate.  Test the system to confirm.