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Author Topic: Small, light powered monitors  (Read 7337 times)

Mark McFarlane

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Small, light powered monitors
« on: April 05, 2013, 07:03:51 am »

I'm contemplating replacing at least a few of my wedges with something smaller. My pack size has become a serious problem, I simply can't fit all my gear.

Usage: I do sound mostly for other people's bands, in another part of the world they would be called bar bands (but we don't have bars), and I do a handful of b-level international touring acts each year and a handful of festivals.  Genres range from the occasional 20 piece orchestra to jazz, bluegrass, classic rock, and a rare heavy metal band.  Most everyone I work with is used to low-end equipment, even the touring bands (who are sponsored by the US State Department and get 'whatever' at their gigs, operated by whomever).  All of my customers would be satisfied with a well implemented SM12V monitor mix. I'd like something noticeably better.

Current Gear: I currently use pairs of NX550Ps, SRM450s, SM12Vs and an Eden 2*10 wedge (for bass) to get up to 5 mixes off an 8 aux 01V96 (3 auxes typically used for subs and verb) and no one has ever complained about monitor volume or quality.  Usually I do 4 and occasionally 5 monitor mixes.

IEMs: I've pretty much discarded the idea of IEM's, which is obviously the most pack-friendly.  Wouldn't work well at festivals with a dozen bands and 5-10 members each, hygiene concerns, stolen buds, 01V96 limited auxes for stereo mixes,...

Contenders: So I am in search of the smallest 'decent' quality monitors I can find.  I'm currently leaning towards RCF NX 10SMA or NX 12SMA (both coax designs) or maybe RCF TT08-As. (I use TT21A tops and love them.) I'd like to keep the price as close to $1,000/channel as possible, including amplification/rack.  The TT08s are a bit of a stretch but I can get a pretty good deal on a pair for around $3K and they could become my preferred tops for small gigs.

Although on the size specs the RCF NX 12-SMAs appear to be the same size as a standard non-coax 12 inch 2-way, RCF apparently measures the size of a 'bounding box' with the speaker set on the floor.  I did a gig 2 weeks ago with two of these and they are much smaller than, e.g. SRM450s, maybe 60% of the pack size.

Power: I'd prefer powered but would consider unpowered as long as the total price with amps and an amp rack fit my budget and size goal.  External amps take up more pack space.

Anything else I should be looking at for small, light, efficient wedges at the this price point?  It's gotta be significantly smaller than SRM450s, with amplification, to be worth considering, my only real need is to save pack space.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 07:09:00 am by Mark McFarlane »
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Mark McFarlane
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Geoff Doane

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Re: Small, light powered monitors
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2013, 08:22:39 am »

Craig Leerman took a pair of these for a road test and liked them:

http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,1394.0.html

They will come in at about half your stated budget.

I use up to half a dozen of the passive boxes and five of the ZXA1s for almost all my monitor needs these days.  It's no problem to EQ with just the parametric output EQ of an 01V console, and everyone likes the sound of them, so far.  I was a bit concerned with the durability of plastic speakers, and monitors never pack nicely anyway, so I had some relatively expensive road cases made for mine, but bags would probably work if you're trying to fit them into the nooks and crannies of your SUV.

GTD
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Scott Wagner

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Re: Small, light powered monitors
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2013, 09:19:30 am »

Contenders: So I am in search of the smallest 'decent' quality monitors I can find.  I'm currently leaning towards RCF NX 10SMA or NX 12SMA (both coax designs) or maybe RCF TT08-As. (I use TT21A tops and love them.) I'd like to keep the price as close to $1,000/channel as possible, including amplification/rack.  The TT08s are a bit of a stretch but I can get a pretty good deal on a pair for around $3K and they could become my preferred tops for small gigs.
I think you're on the right track with the NX-SMAs.  The ZXA1s are nice sounding little boxes, but I'm not sure they'll meet all of your requirements (I wouldn't choose these for rock band usage).
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Scott Wagner
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Mark McFarlane

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Re: Small, light powered monitors
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2013, 10:52:57 am »

I think you're on the right track with the NX-SMAs.  The ZXA1s are nice sounding little boxes, but I'm not sure they'll meet all of your requirements (I wouldn't choose these for rock band usage).

Thanks Geoff and Scott.

Scott, what's your concern, SPL?

FYI, another attractive thing about the TT08's is I could use them for relatively inconspicuous front fills at some gigs.
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Mark McFarlane
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Scott Wagner

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Re: Small, light powered monitors
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2013, 06:09:26 pm »

Thanks Geoff and Scott.

Scott, what's your concern, SPL?

FYI, another attractive thing about the TT08's is I could use them for relatively inconspicuous front fills at some gigs.
Well, the ZXA1s sound very good, and I've had good results with them for lower volume monitor gigs.  While I haven't tried them for louder shows, my gut feeling is they won't really have enough gas.  Of course, I can't think of any 8" boxes that I'd want to try for louder shows.
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dick rees

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Re: Small, light powered monitors
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2013, 07:37:36 pm »

Thanks Geoff and Scott.

Scott, what's your concern, SPL?

FYI, another attractive thing about the TT08's is I could use them for relatively inconspicuous front fills at some gigs.

Mark....

FWIW, Alto makes a 12" concentric powered wedge:  SXM112a


http://altoproaudio.com/products/sxm112a

This specs out pretty much the same as the RCF gear except for being lighter weight.  I have a pair of them and am planning on getting another half-dozen real soon.  They pole mount and work fine for fills.  They have some contour pre-sets you can dial in for your intended application.  Amazon ships them for $299.00.

They're worth a look.  More (units) for your money......
« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 07:43:34 pm by dick rees »
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Ryan McLeod

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Re: Small, light powered monitors
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2013, 07:49:50 pm »

I went on the same search a while back, and chose the DB Trchnologies DVX-DM28 - it's a 750w powered dual 8" with a 1.75" on top, placed between the two 8's. it sounds similar to a coax, is about the same size as a SRX712, and we liked them so much I replaced all 16 of my 712's with 'em.

The cost about the same as a new 712 at the time, but they're powered. Singers and horn players love them, they're about as stable as a coax, and vocals cut through with ease - little eq is generally needed.

My only 'complaint' is that all of the connections (powercon in/out and XLR in/out) are on one side - I would have preferred a pass-thru on the other side, but only about half the time :-)
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George Dougherty

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Re: Small, light powered monitors
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2013, 08:36:12 pm »

I've looked quite a bit at the Altos Dick mentioned and I'm not sure I can go there.  They look decent for low volume stuff but you can do quite a bit better and be within your budget.  Given the budget and comments you put out there it seems you're going for consistency and quality among your monitors, not just the lowest price that will get you consistency around the stage.

FWIW, I've been on the same hunt and my requirements are clean, loud output with a 12" as my ideal for decent low output, but I always run mine with a 24db 100Hz LR HPF to keep them from fighting the subs anyway so I don't see a huge advantage in the lower output of a 15".  Coaxial is also on my wish list since I prefer the consistency and stability advantage that offers, as long as the quality is still there.  Ideally, that means a center mounted horn as well instead of using the moving cone for the horn flare.  Sure you can get decent stability from a traditional wedge, but there's a reason most of the latest top end wedges moved to coaxes.
I'd actually prefer passive, but there aren't that many passive 12" coax boxes that aren't also way outside my price range and I'd rather not DIY my own since most of the options I'd choose don't include a horn in the middle.  RCF makes the only thing that really seems to fit the bill from all the looking I've done.

The RCF NX series definitely made the wish list, but my budget is lower than that.  It's the marginally better speaker, but I also ended up with a db Technologies speaker like Ryan.  I take delivery of them this week from a local dealer who cut me an offer I couldn't refuse so I'll have 6 or 8 of the Flexsys FM12's by midweek.  I think I'd rather have the RCF's long run, but I don't do enough really high output gigs that the Flexsys won't keep up.  Maybe someday I'll get around to DIY'ing something with the better RCF driver they have with the 1.4" exit on the coax.
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dick rees

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Re: Small, light powered monitors
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2013, 08:49:20 pm »

I've looked quite a bit at the Altos Dick mentioned and I'm not sure I can go there.  They look decent for low volume stuff but you can do quite a bit better and be within your budget. 

So you're rating their output and usefulness by how they look?

Have you used them on stage?  I have.  I've had no complaints or comments that they were not loud enough or clear enough.  On the contrary.  They have received very favorable reviews from the musicians which I attribute not just to their sonic clarity and power, but their small footprint and smooth coverage from the 60 degree conical pattern.

But then, I'm happy with wedges that can put out a usable 126dB.  More than that and there's just too much stage wash for my taste. 
« Last Edit: April 07, 2013, 08:55:34 pm by dick rees »
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Robert Patch

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Re: Small, light powered monitors
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2013, 09:13:13 pm »

I was using SRM450's and got tired of schlepping them. I would have used ZXA1's if I thought I could get away with them, but I picked up QSC K10's instead.  People seem to be pleased with the sound, they are versatile for other uses and I like the form factor.  I think I might have preferred the slightly tighter pattern of the K12's in retrospect, but not the size.
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