First things first...
A giant Thank You goes to Phil Van Peborgh, (VP of TWAudio Americas,) for bringing this awesome rig all the way to Pennsylvania. Thanks go to Mark, Ben, Doc, and all the guys at Events Staging in Orwigsburg for hosting the demo and inviting us. We appreciated it and enjoyed meeting you guys. Also, thanks to Eric at Big Bottom Sound in Harrisburg for dragging me along.
I may not be the best guy to review higher end speakers because I haven't really had the pleasure of running all that many good rigs yet. Although, I have run full rigs by EAW, Turbo Sound, Community, JBL, and Yorkville, I've spent most of my time limping along on MI and mid-level gear in nightclubs and small festivals. But anyway, I'll still try to describe what I heard yesterday.
This was not a live show. It was merely a hands-on test demo in a warehouse. We just wanted to hear the system for ourselves before making any commitments. Phil setup the system and played pre-recorded mp3's from his laptop. We did also plug in one SM58 to blab around on, but that didn't tell us much. Hopefully, we'll get to take the system out racing for real someday.
Anyway, the first thing that I had noticed was how much presence the T24N seemed to have. Their mids and upper-mids were clear and bright and I like that in a speaker. They have an open and airy character without being harsh anywhere. They have excellent transient response as well. You could easily bring out snare pop, instrument attack, and acoustic strings without even trying very hard. The factory DSP had them sounding very smooth and natural. I didn't notice any unpleasant spots in the frequency response, (even though the warehouse we were in may have had problematic acoustics.) The Lab.Gruppen comes with DSP presets pre-loaded which makes the system pretty much plug and play. I think the amps were the PLM+ series. You shouldn't need to EQ the mixer 2-bus at all, other than for personal taste or room tweaks. (The mid-to-high balance was good, but just a tiny bit off for my taste. If it were my rig, I would broad hump the highs about 1 or 2 dB more. But, that's just me. I like brightness for intelligibility, but not if it adds harshness.
I am no expert on pattern control, but horizontal coverage seemed very even to me. As I moved side to side in front of one speaker, I could notice more changes in the mid-range, (in phasiness,) than I could in the highs. The highs seemed to remain even and consistent throughout the horizontal dispersion pattern. And speaking of horn patterns, you can rotate or even change out the entire HF horn lens in about 2 seconds without any tools. The horn is held on to its driver assembly using strong earth magnets. So, all you have to do is give it a firm tug and it pops right off. After you rotate it a quarter turn, you just push to snap it back on. The flanges mate up with a tightly fitting cup-and-collar contour that uses a rubber O-ring to create a seal. It all holds very firmly and I seriously doubt that it could ever fall off during a performance. Not when you have to use some muscle to pull it off.
These boxes sounded fairly linear, meaning they maintained the same sound character no matter how loud we made them play. I've used rigs before that seemed to exhibit a volume threshold, where, at low volume, they sound somewhat dark and at higher volume, their sound becomes far brighter. This system either has dynamic EQing in the DSP or it just performs well by nature. Either way, it works.
We made poor Phil switch them back and forth from passive to bi-amp mode a few times. I know that performance generally suffers a bit with a passive crossover, but I couldn't hear much difference at all in sound quality or transient response. The differences were subtle if at all noticeable. I understand that you may be sacrificing about 3 or so dB when running passive, but that still leaves roughly 140 dB of available level. I wouldn't have any problem doing a hard rock band in a nightclub while in passive mode and using 1 less power amp.
We fooled around for a while picking them up and stacking them. Both the tops and subs seem very manageable and have handles in just the right places. One person should be able to ground stack them without much effort. Although, we all agreed that it may be difficult to put the top boxes onto the poles, should you choose to use those large swivel brackets. It just seemed awkward and dangerous for one man to pole mount them. That is, the bracket partially covers up the handles which are needed to lift the thing onto the pole. The bracket was heavy too. I would guess it to be between 20 and 30 lbs, making the total lift close to 100 lbs. It may be easy to lose one's balance or maybe pinch a finger while lifting, albeit, the bracket was super nice once assembled. I've had many shows where I had needed some tilt on my top boxes. So, I'm not sure whether to count the bracket accessory as a plus or a minus. Maybe it's a wash.
I wasn't quite as impressed by the B30 subs as I was by the tops. Although, the bottom end was full and rich, I guess I just expected it to be punchier, tighter, and more dynamic. It sounded a titty bit on the rumbly side up close. Granted, there may have been some room node issues going on in that warehouse, but the subs just didn't excite me much. Maybe I am too used to hearing my front loaded subs. Don't get me wrong...they sounded good and all. I suppose I expected more punch because they were smaller drivers than mine. IDK.
Furthermore, I believe two of those subs would have a hard time keeping up with one top. I say this because, at one point while opening up the system, they were much closer to their ceiling than were the tops. I would definitely always want 4 of them if I needed to push the system for a heated show.
On the whole, it was a really nice system. It had a few minor quirks that I didn't expect, but they were probably not deal breakers. For one thing, all of the speakers had detachable dolly boards with wheels. (No, that's not the problem.) They snap onto the front face of each speaker box with standard roadcase latches. However, the T24N rolls away face down and, because it is trapezoidal, it didn't look as though it was stackable as far as I could see. Maybe it is; I failed to ask. While face down, it becomes a very short horizontal package causing you to bend over in order to push the thing. Truck pack-ability may be a concern as well if it indeed doesn't stack. I would rather see two of them standing upright on a single dolly boar, or perhaps piggy-backed on top of the subs somehow.
In general, this is a clean sounding, light-weight, portable system that goes really loud. I would say that it ranks right up there with some of the best I've heard. If you run medium sized clubs, outdoor festivals, or need a coherent fill system for large stages, this answers the call. It is very well built, well thought out, and well backed up. Phil tells me that TWAudio has sales in 65 different countries and has been steadily growing for 12 years. My only real gripe, (for us small fries anyway,) is the street price which is in the 4000ís per box for the tops and apparently a bit less for the subs. It could definitely be a great purchase if you have enough work to get ROI.
You may be able to see this system in action if what I've heard through the grapevine comes true. Someone at Events Staging had casually mentioned that they may be able to give this little system a test trial as audience side-fills at an upcoming summer 2017 concert in New Jersey. That doesn't mean that it will happen, it only means that, for a brief moment, they had considered it as a possibility. Of course, I have nothing to do with that decision. Perhaps Mark or someone from the company will chime in here and let us know if that becomes an actual plan. (Fingers Crossed.)
If you are in North America and are seriously considering this system, you may be able to arrange for a demo of your own. Give Phil a call, (his contact info is on the TW website,) and mention your interest. He is indeed a "cheery young chap" and quite easy going.
I placed a short video on YT of this system playing some music. Youtube immediately muted and locked the audio on the video after detection a copyright infringement in the sound track. (i.e., The music that was being played through the speaker system was copyrighted.) The owners of copyrighted material usually just add a commercial Ad at the beginning of the offending video on youtube and collect the revenue, but this owner demanded that the audio track be muted instead. After I had sent a formal dispute to them clarifying that it falls under the "fair use" law, the audio track was suddenly un-muted again. I hope it stays unlocked. Check it out here before the whole video gets taken down.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQOKIYLAOYI