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Author Topic: DIY PA advice/troubleshooting  (Read 800 times)

Sam Roberts

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DIY PA advice/troubleshooting
« on: May 26, 2018, 10:05:47 am »

Hi, thanks in advance for your time reading my long af post. I have done some research both on this forum and in articles... but basically I'm totally ignorant on these matters and my friends are giving me mixed messages so I want advice from a person who can hopefully set me straight without me having to reread and attempt to slowly digest info on how components interact...

I am in charge of a house show/DIY space and while I am totally capable of booking and curating the calendar here, I have recently found myself in charge of buying and setting up a new PA system for the space, which I am really not at all qualified to do. There are some funds set aside, but a tight budget is ideal as to reserve some funds for future needs.

Originally I had thought to buy powered speakers and a mixer as I thought this would be straightforward and fool-proof but in the name of bang for buck, and after consulting with a friend, I decided to go with power amp/powered mixer/passive speaker combo. I bought a power amp (specs here: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/CS2000--peavey-cs-2000)

I had not yet procured the rest of my set up so I borrowed some components from friends to pair with my power amp for a show we had the other night.... a 4 channel mixer and these speakers (https://www.artsound.gr/catalog/peavey-2way-speakers-300w-pair-p-34858.html?language=en)

long story short the speakers seem to have fried during the show (not making ANY sound from either and there was a plasticy smell, all other components and wires/cables tested and are totally fine). I'm feeling pretty guilty for not being more diligent in my research before letting this set up be used but I was assured it "should definitely be fine" by both a friend (who is a big guitar/bass amp gearhead) and roommate (who has some recording school) so they both seemingly know more than me.

the performer was an electronic/noise duo with a very wild set up that they plugged into the mixer.... so my question is;
A) am I to blame for horribly mismatching components and my amp destroyed these speakers?
B) is the performer possibly the blame for doing a crazy enough signal through his gear to blow them? (I know this is very vague but is that even remotely possible?)
C) is it possible that the speakers were just old and neglected and were likely ready to go? (they definitely were old and possibly neglected, as my friend got them for free, though they had been reliable in the recent past)


and further more I plan on completing my set up with the above mentioned/linked power amp plus these speakers (https://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/peavey-pvi-10-10-pa-speaker-cabinet-pair) and this mixer (https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ProFX12v2--mackie-profx12v2-mixer-with-usb-and-effects). Will this set up work well? and if so, is there anything I need to be aware of when running this set up?

thanks again for any and all replies/information!!
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: DIY PA advice/troubleshooting
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2018, 11:17:03 am »

Hi there Sam.. that is a famous name you got there.  The short answer to your venue questions is.. you probably should have bought powered speakers.

The longer answer is a lot more involved. My gut feeling is I think you and your friends may have grossly underestimated the system requirements and budget necessary for this type of application, but to know if that is the case we need details on the size of the venue, crowd capacity, type of music, expected SPL(cocktail lounge/restaurant... road house/night club), and budget. I'll wait for your response but I think based on the results of your previous event that you will have to add some zeros to the budget to get a reliable and capable sound system in this venue.


the performer was an electronic/noise duo with a very wild set up that they plugged into the mixer.... so my question is;
A) am I to blame for horribly mismatching components and my amp destroyed these speakers?
Quite possibly yes.
B) is the performer possibly the blame for doing a crazy enough signal through his gear to blow them? (I know this is very vague but is that even remotely possible?)
If he had total control of the system he can share some blame, but a venue would have to be very naive to give visiting performers complete control of the house PA.
C) is it possible that the speakers were just old and neglected and were likely ready to go? (they definitely were old and possibly neglected, as my friend got them for free, though they had been reliable in the recent past)
Anything is possible but if they worked initially then it's more likely they simply were not suitable for your application and you pushed them beyond their limits.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 11:35:27 am by Paul G. OBrien »
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Sam Roberts

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Re: DIY PA advice/troubleshooting
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2018, 11:58:09 am »

Hi thanks for your input!

to clarify, this is a house show space as in literally in the living room of my house where I live. so not a venue perse. Think of this application as if you wanted to see a band perform in your living room or perhaps getting a PA for a small venue or practice space is also comparable (amps turned up to drums and usually 1-3 vocals mic'd to be above the instruments, occasionally a horn mic'd and occasionally an electronics rig plugged in through the mixer) typically loud rock... does that give you a better idea of the room/application? sorry for any confusion in my op

the performer did not have total control over our PA but was plugged through our mixer which was at 3/4s volume and the power amp was at 1/3 on it's db knob....

"adding some zeroes to the budget" is absolutely not possible and I reckon not needed either.

so i have this power amp, is it possible to get two PA speakers and a mixer that will be compatible for my application? part of the reason I got the power amp is because we use one in my practice space for one of my bands and it's very clear sounding. if using a power amp for a two speaker basic PA set up is wildly inappropriate then I guess I will have to resell my recently acquired amp but would prefer to find components to match with it.
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Lee Douglas

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Re: DIY PA advice/troubleshooting
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2018, 12:30:56 pm »

Return the power amp and purchase a pair of good name brand powered speakers.  These should have features to help protect them.  Your amp is probably fine, but until you are willing to invest the knowledge and funds into getting the equipment to allow it to work properly and safely, powered speakers are as close to "no-brainer" you're going to get.  Add a mixer that covers you input needs and go to town.  Keep in mind that although most properly designed powered speakers are idiot resistant, none are idiot proof.  Deliberate abuse by you or your performers can still destroy them.  Now, for recommendations, a budget would be in order...
« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 12:33:15 pm by Lee Douglas »
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: DIY PA advice/troubleshooting
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2018, 01:19:36 pm »


to clarify, this is a house show space as in literally in the living room of my house where I live. so not a venue perse. Think of this application as if you wanted to see a band perform in your living room or perhaps getting a PA for a small venue or practice space is also comparable (amps turned up to drums and usually 1-3 vocals mic'd to be above the instruments, occasionally a horn mic'd and occasionally an electronics rig plugged in through the mixer) typically loud rock... does that give you a better idea of the room/application?

Yes it does thanks and it confirms my initial suspicions.. the speakers you borrowed and the ones you are contemplating buying are woefully inadequate. I'm going to agree with Lee in suggesting you return the amp and buy powered speakers as they will give you the best sound and most reliability given your lack of experience, but you will suffer some sticker shock I'm sure at specific models I'm going to suggest. The bare minimum here would be a pair of Yamaha DXR15's or similar, if you were just reinforcing vocals you could get away with 12's but throwing the electronic music performer in there ups the lowend output requirement significantly. Ideally this speaker system would include at least 1 sub and a pair of 12's with a 15" sub would sound and perform better than the 15's without so consider that too. You might think this is overkill but the reality is if you want equipment that will last indefinitely you need headroom, that is excess capacity that doesn't get used for the most part.

People get this with cars, they usually opt for the bigger engine and a bigger vehicle so they can carry more people/cargo on occasion with ease, but the same people are surprised that the speaker equivalent of an econobox sub compact car can't run at redline for hours on end towing a big trailer.

So yeah you need to spend $1500-$2500 to get a decent system and even then it's just adequate, you could spend double that on some JBL SRX series boxes and you would notice increased clarity particularly in the vocal range at higher volumes so it's not money wasted. But if you spend less than the $1500 the DXR15s cost I'm afraid you will be exploring the products warranty coverage quite soon and/or spending more good money on yet another set of speakers.

« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 01:23:47 pm by Paul G. OBrien »
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: DIY PA advice/troubleshooting
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2018, 02:07:41 pm »


Originally I had thought to buy powered speakers and a mixer as I thought this would be straightforward and fool-proof but in the name of bang for buck, and after consulting with a friend, I decided to go with power amp/powered mixer/passive speaker combo. I bought a power amp (specs here: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/CS2000--peavey-cs-2000)


You  should have gone with your first thought. Powered speakers give you far more protection from potential abuse, more features and configurability probably too. Add that to the ease of set up and you should take everyone's advice and return the power amp. Also those Peavey speakers you linked to won't get you close to the sound quality of a pair of powered DXR's. I realize budget is important but you might need to apply the 'buy once cry once' logic here.
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Luke Geis

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Re: DIY PA advice/troubleshooting
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2018, 02:14:35 pm »

So you bought an amp that is no longer available and is discontinued as per the link you provided. To top it off you have no idea how a PA works and you decided to go the most complicated and actually most expensive way. Your friends must have something to sell you, or are as naive as you are?

A passive systems costs more than any comparable powered system to build. The interconnect cables and peripherals such as crossovers, and system DSP all add to the cost. With a powered speaker, 95% of that work is done already, all you simply need to do is connect a signal cable and power. If you buy a powered speaker with some built in DSP / EQ features, you can stave off even more peripheral gear.

The buy once, cry once term comes to mind. If you want cheap crap, you get cheap crap. If you actually want something to work, you buy stuff that you know will work. Not knowing what your budget is, we can't even begin to assume what to steer you towards. A cheap system to me starts at $500 per speaker and that is what I consider to be as low as I could possibly accept to go. For $500 a speaker you can build a pretty serious PA. That is also factoring a powered speaker for that $500. You CANNOT beat a powered speaker these days. They have all the dumb dumb work done for you. The only way to blow them up is to straight up abuse them.

A passive system requires an amp, the interconnect cables ( speaker cables are roughly $1 per ft. So plan on $100 for two cables ) and amps that have some or all the DSP in them are not cheap, often costing around $600+. The truth is that by the time you build a passive system, it will often cost more than a similar self powered one and all of the complicated work is left for you to do. So in your case, self powered anything will be better than what you have.

To address the actual questions:

1. Yes, you are. You are the operator.

2. Yes and no. His wanton disregard to the likely ugly sound and burning smell, red lights etc. was a factor, but revert to point 1.

3. Possibly, but I am leaning towards not really. Tired speakers may have reduced performance, but not necessarily are on a timer. If they are abused before blowing up, they will still work fairly normally until abused again, in which case they may give up the ghost then.

A speaker that has never been abused can essentially work forever provided it's still in one piece and doesn't crumble apart when used. A speaker is not a very complicated thing. It is literally a coil of wire around a tube / former that is supported by the spider and the cone with the coil of wire inside a gap that has a magnet around it. There are only two things that can go wrong. The coil burns up from abuse, delaminates from its former and subsequently rubs inside the gap, causing a break in the coil to which no connection = no worky. The next issue is simply that the coil / leads breaks at some point or another and there is no longer a connection, so it no longer works.

My advise: Give us a budget ( a real one ) and a goal. You have outlined your goal already, so that helps a lot. You need a PA that will beat a band in a small room. You need a real PA that is capable of roughly 130db peak or more to do that without stressing it too much. This ability will start around the $500 mark new and possibly close to the $250 mark used per speaker. The mixer you are looking at is fine, actually any mixer at all is going to work fine. I would use the PA for unamplified instruments only, like vocals, acoustic guitars or keys, if they don't have a keyboard amp. Keep it simple, as simple as you can.

The lowest I would go is the $350 mark. The EON 612 is a little low in output at 126db, but loud enough and is only $450 new! It has features that really will help such as onboard EQ and Bluetooth. The next step up that still has some EQ and is feature filled is the Electro Voice ELX112P. It goes for about the $550-$600 mark new and is a killer speaker. The EV ZLX-12P is an on par speaker to the JBL EON and is even cheaper still at $350 new and has EQ as well. I wouldn't go any lower in cost than that. Finding a used unit of these will be difficult mostly because these units are good enough that most are not looking to offload them, but there are several used ZLX's on ebay for less than $600 for a pair! The ELX ( the one I would go for ) can be found used for around $800 a pair.
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Sam Roberts

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Re: DIY PA advice/troubleshooting
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2018, 02:25:51 pm »

Thanks so much to all for reading my situation and replying! I am pretty annoyed at my friend and roommate who each talked me out of my original idea of powered speakers into this idea to ostensibly save a few bucks (their hearts were in the right place but they were WRONG and I was RIGHT haha).. perhaps needless to say I have lost some (or all) faith in their knowledge of working a power amp PA. Like I said we do use one in our practice space.

definitely bummed to have wrecked my friends speakers too but we're going to figure that out and hopefully get them repaired...

so I'm thinking of buying two of these as they are (barely ) in budget http://www.proaudiostar.com/jbl-eon610.html

thoughts? keep in mind it's a very small room

and yeah budget is, unfortunately, going to be $7-800 max including mixer. so, not ideal, I know, and I think used  or the above will be the way to go.

Luke Geis you're right! me and my friends are total amateurs, trying to share music with our community, and totally open to advice and new info. so no need to insult and belittle, but whatever makes you feel better about yourself  :)
« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 02:37:42 pm by Sam Roberts »
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: DIY PA advice/troubleshooting
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2018, 02:39:21 pm »

so I'm thinking of buying two of these as they are (barely ) in budget http://www.proaudiostar.com/jbl-eon610.html

thoughts? keep in mind it's a very small room
Barely adequate for vocals only with accoustic instruments and poor sounding at that. They're still overpriced at that sale price IMO.

and yeah budget is, unfortunately, going to be $7-800 max including mixer.
Then buy 1 good(Yamaha DXR, JBL PRX) powered 12" or 15" speaker and a cheap desktop mixer. You have to realize the smaller PA speakers(8's and 10's) generally produce very little bass and even some of the 12's are weak in this regard, so any of these are going to be anywhere from marginal to no good at all for fullrange electronic music.
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Sam Roberts

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Re: DIY PA advice/troubleshooting
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2018, 02:50:55 pm »

ok I'm thinking you guys are maybe too high in your standards for what I'm operating. Gonna just got with the JBL EONs maybe a 15" that I found used for a good price instead... but no I can't afford 2 $500 speakers!
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