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Author Topic: Small powered speaker shootout  (Read 23499 times)

Caleb Dick

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Small powered speaker shootout
« on: July 20, 2010, 06:51:00 pm »

A client of ours wanted to hear some powered speakers, so here's what we compared.

EV ZXA1, and ZXA5
QSC KW122, and KW153
Mackie SRM-450

Subs - Yorkville UCS1P
Danley TH-115P

Also had Sennheiser E9xx mics and an A&H iLive-T.

Results, as per a half dozen of us.  Disclaimer - I am a dealer for most of the brands, so I switched between boxes at the DSP and made sure they adjusted levels dynamically so no box would stand out due to being a dB hotter than the rest.  Opinions below are theirs more than mine.

No EQ.  Source was various tracks we all knew well, the best being GnR Sweet Child of Mine.  Crossovers were whatever was on the speaker itself for HPF.  Subs were 24 L-R at 75hz LPF and 18 Butterworth at 30hz HPF.  

ZXA1 - for the price and size, loved it.  It gets harsh when cranked; no surprise, it's not meant for high output.  

SRM-450 - Yep, as non-pleasing as everyone remembered.  Rated the worst overall.

ZXA5 - got louder than expected.  Mid range was indistinct and mushy, HF was harsh especially when cranked.  Was quite disappointing.  

KW122 - sounds a lot like K12 and HPR122, better than Mackie by a lot.  Overall, very average, didn't come back to it for additional listening.  

KW153 - at low levels, very 'flat' sounding, in a non-flattering way.  Sounded like it needed some smile EQ (don't shoot me).  Has that QSC sound that I recognize across all HPR/K/KW lines.  

At 90' back or so, we cranked up the ZXA5 and KW153 to limit.  The ZXA5 was so harsh, they asked me to kill the level quickly.  At full output, the KW153 sounded better, and I'll admit, wasn't bad at all.  The next day they had a small outdoor concert, and I went from 40' to about 300' a few times.  Even at long distance, the vocals stayed on top of the mix, and it sounded better than expected.  

Subwoofers - The Danley had the old, underpowered amp (note: new TH-115P with full power amp is available now), and was compared 1:1 with UCS1PB.  The Danley was a lot tighter and deeper, with many comments about how it sounded 'huge'.  Overall output - I thought the Danley sounded louder, they thought UCS1P but with less LF.  We didn't push to the max, as the -115 belonged to someone else and didn't have the full power amp.  

For the concert, I had the Danley and a KW153 on one side, and 2 UCS1PB's under a KW153 on the other, subs padded down 3+ dB.  Other than crossovers, the only EQ was about a 1dB cut at about 1khz on the console output.  Delay was educated guess, no Smaart, and 7ms (max available on cheap DSP) on tops and Danley, polarity reverse on Danley.  Lots of comments on how the sound was 10x better than ever.  Very little EQ on other channels (D6 kick, AE5400/E935/E945 vocals, i5 snare, SM57 guitar) other than HPF.    

iLive-T doesn't like direct sun.  Even with brightness cranked, the screens were essentially unusable.  Also, the surface of the surface expanded and bubbled by at least an inch after about 5-10 minutes, and the touch screen wasn't happy at all.  After moving to shade and waiting a few minutes, all was well.  

Caleb
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Caleb Dick
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Fernando Lopez

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Re: Small powered speaker shootout
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2010, 10:30:31 pm »

Thanks for this review, but I am a little perplexed on the results of the ZXA5

Also in your conclusion are you rating one side better than the other? The KW over the Danley was better than the KW over the USC's?


Thanks
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Caleb Dick

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Re: Small powered speaker shootout
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2010, 01:42:46 am »

I will be re-comparing the ZXA5 and KW153 later today, different venue, different client, no subs. I'll have better idea then. When we fired up the ZXA5 alone in the shop, it was disappointing then too. EV employee set it up and was there with us, so I'm pretty sure it's not broken.

The KW's sounded the same live even though the subs weren't matched. We wanted a live comparison, and didn't have enough of either to use only one brand. Sound-wise I don't think anyone noticed a difference between the L and R stacks.

If load had not been pushed back by over an hour, I would have aligned the system.

Caleb
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Caleb Dick
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Bob Kenton

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Re: Small powered speaker shootout
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2010, 03:01:14 am »

Any chance you can try out one of Mackies new HD122's?
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Caleb Dick

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Re: Small powered speaker shootout
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2010, 07:58:13 am »

If there is someone local with the new Mackies, let me know, I don't know of any. We aren't dealers for Mackie, and I don't see that changing. The Mackie was thrown into the mix simply because it was there, they wanted to prove how bad it really was to their powers that be.

I would like to compare it to the now-discontinued Art 522, or 722, or even TT22a.

My biggest complaint about the KW line is that its primary selling point is that it's 'better than the SRM-450'. Why not aim a bit higher, at a modern standard?  I'm not anti-QSC in any way, I've seen this from multiple companies. 'Buy us, we're better than bottom-of-the-line.'

Caleb
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Caleb Dick
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Adam Kane

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Re: Small powered speaker shootout
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2010, 12:36:52 pm »

While I haven't used the powered ZX's, one of the bands I play in uses a pair of ZX5's for mains.

Based my my experiences with those, my opinion of them matches yours of the ZXa5's...especially in regards to the midrange. Our soundguy is always telling me how he can never get the vocals "on top" of the mix. While I've never had the opportunity to use Smaart with them, no amount of EQ has ever gotten them to sound dramatically better.

The last time I played with them, I took a set of Yorkville E15's from work to use for FOH. He bypassed the FOH EQ and after the first "check...one...two" from one of the vocal mics, he said he noticed an immediate improvement in midrange clarity. He said he left the EQ bypassed for the night and said it's the best we've ever sounded (we play that venue often).

Granted there was very little science involved in this a/b comparison, but I'll never go out of my way to use those particular EV's again if I don't have to.
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Caleb Dick

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Re: Small powered speaker shootout
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2010, 09:46:36 pm »

I compared the ZXA5 and KW153 again today as mentioned. The EV sounds like it has a smile EQ, while the QSC sounds like a frown EQ. Client chose QSC.

I wouldn't say the EV is bad; rather it sounds like a limitation of being a plastic 15/1 speaker.

Caleb
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Caleb Dick
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Bob Kenton

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Re: Small powered speaker shootout
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2010, 02:34:12 am »

Caleb Dick wrote on Wed, 21 July 2010 12:58

If there is someone local with the new Mackies, let me know, I don't know of any. We aren't dealers for Mackie, and I don't see that changing. The Mackie was thrown into the mix simply because it was there, they wanted to prove how bad it really was to their powers that be.

I would like to compare it to the now-discontinued Art 522, or 722, or even TT22a.

My biggest complaint about the KW line is that its primary selling point is that it's 'better than the SRM-450'. Why not aim a bit higher, at a modern standard?  I'm not anti-QSC in any way, I've seen this from multiple companies. 'Buy us, we're better than bottom-of-the-line.'

Caleb




Ok, Thanks! Any word on the KW sub yet?
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Jim King

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Re: Small powered speaker shootout
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2010, 01:40:51 pm »

Caleb Dick wrote on Wed, 21 July 2010 04:58

My biggest complaint about the KW line is that its primary selling point is that it's 'better than the SRM-450'.


A much better comparison of all these would be the Mackie SA series or the new HD series. Those and the QSC KW are about the same target.

The Mackie SRM is about the same target as the QSC K series. So that's what I'd be comparing the SRM-450 to.

Good info here anyway... just ignore the Mackie stuff unless you're going to compare apples-to-apples.
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Reggie Kendrick

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Re: Small powered speaker shootout
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2010, 06:27:55 pm »

Caleb Dick wrote on Wed, 21 July 2010 21:46

I compared the ZXA5 and KW153 again today as mentioned. The EV sounds like it has a smile EQ, while the QSC sounds like a frown EQ. Client chose QSC.

I wouldn't say the EV is bad; rather it sounds like a limitation of being a plastic 15/1 speaker.

Caleb

Thanks for posting this review but wouldn't a more 'fair' comparison be the QSC KW152 to the EV ZXa5?

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