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Author Topic: Help upgrading a small system  (Read 5356 times)

Seth Frick

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Help upgrading a small system
« on: March 04, 2011, 12:42:15 pm »

Hello everyone, this is my first post here at ProSoundWeb and I'm looking forward to hearing from you guys. Here's the deal: I've slowly been doing more and more mobile DJ work on the side (I'm still in college), and putting together all the equipment I need to do more of it. I currently do 6-8 gigs a year, but I'm trying to improve what I can offer so I can comfortably do larger gigs and get more work. My gigs now tend to fall into the range of 50-100 people indoors at higher volumes (small college dances, larger house parties, etc) or 100-200 people outdoors at lower volumes (grad parties, birthdays). My current sound system is a pair of off-brand 2-way tops with 15" woofers (not very proud of them, but they were a birthday present from some friends a few years back) and a single Yorkville YX18S sub that I picked up for 200 bucks. For the smaller events I do, I've been able to get the volume I need out of this system, but it's obviously lacking in quality.

I want to upgrade my system over the next year and a half or so, in stages. I plan on ditching the old cabs completely, and for the first stage of my upgrade I want to get a pair of tops and a pair of subs. After this stage I'd like to be able to do events of up to 150-200 indoors for higher volume EDM stuff. In the second stage of my upgrade, I want to add another pair of tops and another pair of subs, and would like to be capable of doing events of up to 300-400 people indoors at medium to high SPL (proms, for example).

My original plan, since I'm on such a tight budget (again, still in college), was to build Bill Fitzmaurice cabs. I would build a pair of 3012ho-loaded melded array OmniTop12s and a pair of 3015lf-loaded Titan 48s for the first upgrade stage, and another pair of each when I can for the second stage. Each pair of cabs would cost about $550 in materials, plus the time and effort required to build them. I am confident in my build skills. Also, I bought two Crown XTi2000s that I was planning on using to power the BFM cabs (one for subs, one for tops).

However, recently I've begun wondering if the BFM cabs are a wise choice. It seems as though I may be able to find some good quality used passives for about the same price as building, and get equal or better performance (at least for the subs). I'm inclined to still go with the OT12 tops, considering I'll be using the best driver available for that design, they're easy to build, and I should be able to get quite a lot of output from them for the money. If there are some good used passives tops that could outperform them in the same price range though, I wouldn't mind saving the effort.

Here's where you guys come in. Considering my budget, should I just go with the BFM cabs? If not, then what are some good used passives to look out for that can offer equal or better performance? I have a maximum budget of $1500 for this first upgrade stage (not including amps, I already have the two XTi's), so I'm thinking I could just build a pair of OT12s for around $500-550 and then get some used subs. Here are the subs I'm currently considering or have heard good things about:

A pair of used JBL MRX518S
A single used JBL MRX528S
A single used JBL SRX718S
A single EAW FR250z (a new one even fits the budget)
A single Wharfedale DLX-218B (I've heard it's the best bang for the buck in intermediate-performance subs)

These are mainly the ones that I've been able to actually find deals on. Like I said, though, I'm not really sure what to look for. If I stuck with the OT12s I'd have about $1000 to spend on a sub or subs.
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Randy Pence

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Re: Help upgrading a small system
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2011, 01:14:57 pm »

If you really want to go diy, a trip to speakerplans.com will yield potentially better projects than the bfm stuff.  I've never heard them, but there have been a number of threads on the old forum which seem to question their performance claims.

Jumping up to 400 people will require different specs from your system.  Something like the jbl722srx might be a better choice than any single woofer top, because you will run out of gas for the kick.  For what I would consider proper loud volume potential, i have 4 2x15/coax2" tops in the corners in a club with a dancefloor which tops out at 250 people.  you can get away with just 2 for mobile one-offs, but in my city, we do plenty of mobile gigs with "surround" sound for the even front to back dancefloor volume.

For 150-200 person gigs, a single 15 can be ok.  If you like hte sound of the boxes you listed, go for it.  The horn xover points on most 15" tops is not as pleasing (beaming occurs in the polar plot) as with a 12", but the 15" handles kicks better. How many larger gigs do you see yourself doing?  Is renting an option until they become more consistent?

I would opt for more than one sub, unless one really delivers the output you need.  As shown in another thread in this subforum, dancemusic has about 20dB louder content in the subwoofer frequencies
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Seth Frick

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Re: Help upgrading a small system
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2011, 02:17:42 pm »

If you really want to go diy, a trip to speakerplans.com will yield potentially better projects than the bfm stuff.  I've never heard them, but there have been a number of threads on the old forum which seem to question their performance claims.

Jumping up to 400 people will require different specs from your system.  Something like the jbl722srx might be a better choice than any single woofer top, because you will run out of gas for the kick.  For what I would consider proper loud volume potential, i have 4 2x15/coax2" tops in the corners in a club with a dancefloor which tops out at 250 people.  you can get away with just 2 for mobile one-offs, but in my city, we do plenty of mobile gigs with "surround" sound for the even front to back dancefloor volume.

For 150-200 person gigs, a single 15 can be ok.  If you like hte sound of the boxes you listed, go for it.  The horn xover points on most 15" tops is not as pleasing (beaming occurs in the polar plot) as with a 12", but the 15" handles kicks better. How many larger gigs do you see yourself doing?  Is renting an option until they become more consistent?

I would opt for more than one sub, unless one really delivers the output you need.  As shown in another thread in this subforum, dancemusic has about 20dB louder content in the subwoofer frequencies

Well the only real reason I considered DIY in the first place was cost. If I can get the same performance out of commercial cabs in around the same price range (new or used), then I'd prefer that route.

As for rentals, I've looked around at various places in my area and it doesn't look good. Most places only offer SRM450s/EONs for tops and EON/JRX subs or K-subs. I found one place that rents out SRX728S subs, but they don't have any pricing listed for it. Their other stuff is really pricey so I'm not gonna get my hopes up about it.

I'm sort of leaning towards going with a single 2 x 18" or 2 x 15" sub for right now, and adding more to that later. After the first stage of my upgrade, my main gigs will be 200 people or less indoors. If I need to cover more I can rent if I absolutely have to. After the second stage of my upgrade (I'll probably have about a $2000 budget for that), I'd like to be able to do crowds of up to 300-350 indoors. Again, if I have to cover more at that stage, I can rent if I absolutely have to.



I think I'm ruling out the MRX because of it's limited output capability. So right now my top choices would be:

EAW FR250z (one now, another later, or two now if I can find a used pair for under $1100)
A pair of JBL SRX718S (used) and another pair later
Wharfedale DLX-218B (possibly two if I can afford it, or two used ones)
JBL SRX728S (if I can manage to find a used one for under $1100) - one now, rent a second as needed until I can afford a second one
Maybe two EAW LA400s if I can find a used pair for under $1100

Are there any others I should consider?
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 03:44:25 pm by Seth Frick »
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Glenn A Williams

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Re: Help upgrading a small system
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2011, 10:01:34 am »

Well the only real reason I considered DIY in the first place was cost. If I can get the same performance out of commercial cabs in around the same price range (new or used), then I'd prefer that route.

As for rentals, I've looked around at various places in my area and it doesn't look good. Most places only offer SRM450s/EONs for tops and EON/JRX subs or K-subs. I found one place that rents out SRX728S subs, but they don't have any pricing listed for it. Their other stuff is really pricey so I'm not gonna get my hopes up about it.

I'm sort of leaning towards going with a single 2 x 18" or 2 x 15" sub for right now, and adding more to that later. After the first stage of my upgrade, my main gigs will be 200 people or less indoors. If I need to cover more I can rent if I absolutely have to. After the second stage of my upgrade (I'll probably have about a $2000 budget for that), I'd like to be able to do crowds of up to 300-350 indoors. Again, if I have to cover more at that stage, I can rent if I absolutely have to.



I think I'm ruling out the MRX because of it's limited output capability. So right now my top choices would be:

EAW FR250z (one now, another later, or two now if I can find a used pair for under $1100)
A pair of JBL SRX718S (used) and another pair later
Wharfedale DLX-218B (possibly two if I can afford it, or two used ones)
JBL SRX728S (if I can manage to find a used one for under $1100) - one now, rent a second as needed until I can afford a second one
Maybe two EAW LA400s if I can find a used pair for under $1100

Are there any others I should consider?

Consider Yorkville LS608s or LS808s.

The just one LS608 will put out as much as quite afew pretty good double 18" subs.

The LS808 will outrun many double 18"subs.

I own several sets of these.

If you were to buy a pair of active RCF 312As for anywhere from $900-$1000 for the pair new, and an LS608 or LS808 used, you would cover 200-225 ppl.

I bought a pair of LS608s for $800.
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Seth Frick

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Re: Help upgrading a small system
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2011, 04:03:16 am »

Thanks Glenn, I had previously looked at the Yorkville LS subs as well, but I forgot to mention them. So currently I'm planning on either a pair of used SRX718S, a single used SRX728S, a pair of used LS808's, or a pair of used LA400's. It's gonna come down to whichever deal pops up first once I'm ready to buy. As for tops, I think I'm going to start off with a pair of 3012ho-loaded OT12s. The only passive tops that have caught my eye recently are the new EV Live X passives (ELX112). I'm sure they sound quite good; however, I just don't think a pair of those will give me quite enough output, even though they'd cost pretty much the same as a pair of OT12s.
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Terry McNeil

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Re: Help upgrading a small system
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2011, 10:08:14 am »

Hello everyone, this is my first post here at ProSoundWeb and I'm looking forward to hearing from you guys. Here's the deal: I've slowly been doing more and more mobile DJ work on the side (I'm still in college), and putting together all the equipment I need to do more of it. I currently do 6-8 gigs a year, but I'm trying to improve what I can offer so I can comfortably do larger gigs and get more work. My gigs now tend to fall into the range of 50-100 people indoors at higher volumes (small college dances, larger house parties, etc) or 100-200 people outdoors at lower volumes (grad parties, birthdays). My current sound system is a pair of off-brand 2-way tops with 15" woofers (not very proud of them, but they were a birthday present from some friends a few years back) and a single Yorkville YX18S sub that I picked up for 200 bucks. For the smaller events I do, I've been able to get the volume I need out of this system, but it's obviously lacking in quality.

I want to upgrade my system over the next year and a half or so, in stages. I plan on ditching the old cabs completely, and for the first stage of my upgrade I want to get a pair of tops and a pair of subs. After this stage I'd like to be able to do events of up to 150-200 indoors for higher volume EDM stuff. In the second stage of my upgrade, I want to add another pair of tops and another pair of subs, and would like to be capable of doing events of up to 300-400 people indoors at medium to high SPL (proms, for example).

My original plan, since I'm on such a tight budget (again, still in college), was to build Bill Fitzmaurice cabs. I would build a pair of 3012ho-loaded melded array OmniTop12s and a pair of 3015lf-loaded Titan 48s for the first upgrade stage, and another pair of each when I can for the second stage. Each pair of cabs would cost about $550 in materials, plus the time and effort required to build them. I am confident in my build skills. Also, I bought two Crown XTi2000s that I was planning on using to power the BFM cabs (one for subs, one for tops).

However, recently I've begun wondering if the BFM cabs are a wise choice. It seems as though I may be able to find some good quality used passives for about the same price as building, and get equal or better performance (at least for the subs). I'm inclined to still go with the OT12 tops, considering I'll be using the best driver available for that design, they're easy to build, and I should be able to get quite a lot of output from them for the money. If there are some good used passives tops that could outperform them in the same price range though, I wouldn't mind saving the effort.

Here's where you guys come in. Considering my budget, should I just go with the BFM cabs? If not, then what are some good used passives to look out for that can offer equal or better performance? I have a maximum budget of $1500 for this first upgrade stage (not including amps, I already have the two XTi's), so I'm thinking I could just build a pair of OT12s for around $500-550 and then get some used subs. Here are the subs I'm currently considering or have heard good things about:

A pair of used JBL MRX518S
A single used JBL MRX528S
A single used JBL SRX718S
A single EAW FR250z (a new one even fits the budget)
A single Wharfedale DLX-218B (I've heard it's the best bang for the buck in intermediate-performance subs)

These are mainly the ones that I've been able to actually find deals on. Like I said, though, I'm not really sure what to look for. If I stuck with the OT12s I'd have about $1000 to spend on a sub or subs.

Hello Seth. I am currently redoing a club in Miami that has the EV Tour X line in it and it really sounds good for some of thing that you want to do. I've also used PROEL NEOS and these speakers are great. The powered version uses Powersoft amp modules. Components are by B&C and 18Sound.

If you'd like to chat more about it send me a PM.
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Daniel Maki

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Re: Help upgrading a small system
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2011, 03:29:10 pm »

Dual 18s are a beast to transport on your own anyway.  I'd stick with single driver subs unless you have a helper monkey.
I'm currently using 212 OTops w 3012s and melded arrays.  I'm really impressed with how they sound, but they *are* right at the edge of being manageable from a size/weight perspective (I don't have a helper monkey).  In most cases, the regular single 12 would be plenty for me at the size of gigs you are talking about.

FWIW, I'm sporting 4 x JTR Growlers for subs.  The output for size/weight to me is among the best-of-breed.  And I do not need helper monkeys.

Seth Frick

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Re: Help upgrading a small system
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2011, 07:00:23 am »

Dual 18s are a beast to transport on your own anyway.  I'd stick with single driver subs unless you have a helper monkey.
I'm currently using 212 OTops w 3012s and melded arrays.  I'm really impressed with how they sound, but they *are* right at the edge of being manageable from a size/weight perspective (I don't have a helper monkey).  In most cases, the regular single 12 would be plenty for me at the size of gigs you are talking about.

FWIW, I'm sporting 4 x JTR Growlers for subs.  The output for size/weight to me is among the best-of-breed.  And I do not need helper monkeys.

Haha thanks Daniel, as far as "helper monkeys" go, I always have at least one other person with me on gigs. Usually two other people. I'll get a taste of lugging around a 2 x 18" seeing as how I booked a rental on a pair of EAW FR159z tops and a JBL SRX728S for two gigs I have coming up. Regardless, I'm leaning towards an LS808. One now, and another later.

As for tops, I'm still not sure. I think I'll probably still just build a pair of OTop 112s (and another pair later when I add a second LS808). However, I'm also considering a pair of EV ELX112's to save myself the work, although I'm worried they won't have enough output. I'm also considering selling off one of my XTi's and getting a pair of RCF 312-A's or EV ELX112P's. The ELX112P's are enticing because they have a built-in 100 Hz HPF, but again I'm worried they wouldn't have enough output compared to the RCFs. The specs say 132 dB max but it's calculated, so I'd probably only get ~125 from them (being generous). The RCF specs say 127 dB max, which I'm assuming is measured, not calculated (though it doesn't say).

Any other good tops (used or new) to look out for? I'm looking at ~$600 a pair for passives or ~$950 a pair for actives. Seems like the RCFs can't be beat in that range but I'm just wondering.
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