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Author Topic: All-in-one portable audio systems  (Read 3614 times)

Gerry Seymour

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All-in-one portable audio systems
« on: February 01, 2013, 03:09:19 pm »

Okay, so I've had some experience with pro audio equipment (at the low end, admittedly), but my current need is in another direction. I'm doing a lot of training, and expect to end up in some spaces (in hotels, mainly) where the house audio is pretty bad or non-existent. I'm looking for a portable solution to be able to take for when the audience will be larger than about 70 (no problem reaching 70 with my unamplified voice).

Ideally, the solution would be carry-on size, though I'm also considering some options that aren't, since at least part of the time I'll be traveling by car.

The portable PA's from Peavey have caught my eye. It looks like they (PVi Portable and Messenger, especially) would provide what I need, store mics and cables in the case, and would be small enough to carry on (thought the PVi would be bitchin' heavy as a carry-on). And these can also be stand-mounted (specialty stands, but probably mic-stand size).

Anyone have experience with anything in this type of PA that they liked. I'd only expect to need one or two mic inputs (the second for a Q&A mic, perhaps, or maybe a second presenter), and input/output for music and recording (so RCA).
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Gerry Seymour

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Re: All-in-one portable audio systems
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2013, 03:15:07 pm »

Okay, so I've had some experience with pro audio equipment (at the low end, admittedly), but my current need is in another direction. I'm doing a lot of training, and expect to end up in some spaces (in hotels, mainly) where the house audio is pretty bad or non-existent. I'm looking for a portable solution to be able to take for when the audience will be larger than about 70 (no problem reaching 70 with my unamplified voice).

Ideally, the solution would be carry-on size, though I'm also considering some options that aren't, since at least part of the time I'll be traveling by car.

The portable PA's from Peavey have caught my eye. It looks like they (PVi Portable and Messenger, especially) would provide what I need, store mics and cables in the case, and would be small enough to carry on (thought the PVi would be bitchin' heavy as a carry-on). And these can also be stand-mounted (specialty stands, but probably mic-stand size).

Anyone have experience with anything in this type of PA that they liked. I'd only expect to need one or two mic inputs (the second for a Q&A mic, perhaps, or maybe a second presenter), and input/output for music and recording (so RCA).

Gerry....

The nice thing about the Peavey is it comes with some "wire" stands that will get the speakers up around 4-5 feet in the air and the stands pack away in the "suitcase" that is the closed-for-transport configuration.  I'd pick it for that feature alone, but it's also a well-built and practical unit in its layout.

The other possible solution would be a single powered speaker with the "mixer" option.  I can't think of brands right now, but there are several companies making such units with a 3 input mixer integrated and some AV inputs (RCA, I think) as well.  IIRC, some of them also will feed a second, satellite speaker.  But you'd have to come up with some stands and I don't know about any that collapse to a practical dimension for transport other than the Peaveys.

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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: All-in-one portable audio systems
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2013, 04:09:29 pm »

I was (very) involved with Peavey's first entry into that category (Peavey Escort), and while bigger, and more expensive, it was a serious compact PA for making actual full range music. 

One obvious question, is your application speech-only reinforcement, or do you want to make/playback full range music?  If the latter you are up against the physics involved, namely you can't get both loud and go low, with tiny drivers in small boxes..  The old Peavey unit I mentioned used 10" 2way speakers so more like a real (albeit modest) PA.

For speech only you can get away with a much smaller box and driver to make the mid-high frequency sounds involved.

How simple is your gig?  A small powered speaker with a mic input might cover your speech only needs nicely, with modest full range music SPL. You get to buy a decent mic, instead of the cheapo mic the packaged systems come with. You can always buy a speaker stand separately. The smaller/lighter the speaker the less heavy duty the speaker stand need be.

(Of course I still love my old children best but that Escort may be more rig than your gig needs). That smaller Peavey system looks like one or two midrange drivers per box... certainly adequate for speech, but don't run the kick drum and bass through that one.  ::)

JR
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Gerry Seymour

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Re: All-in-one portable audio systems
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2013, 04:52:30 pm »

Hey there Dick and JR! Nice to "see" you guys again. Dick, thanks again for all the advice you provided over the two years I was working and rebuilding that conference rig.

The Escort (which is what I assume Dick is referring to, as well) is a nice system, but probably more than I need. The principal (and only vital) purpose it to reinforce spoken word. I'll almost certainly put some music through it, but I'm unconcerned with the limits that music would face.

I notice that Peavey also has a couple of suitcase-style systems that look tempting. I did consider the single-speaker solution (and actually have a couple of those in my initial list), but I prefer the flexibility for covering different room configurations with two speakers - tough to cover wide/shallow rooms with a single source. The cheapo mic packaged with the system would always be nothing more than a backup. I'd be using a wireless system (something in Shure's lower end, probably) as my primary, and would carry a decent wired as a secondary/Q&A mic.

Still, again, I like the versatility of the Escort. I suspect I'm heading toward two separate systems. These are likely to get use from more than just me in the future, so I don't mind popping for an extra. Still beats renting several times a year, and I'll have a rig I know and trust.

And JR, I never bring the kick drum to my speaking gigs. The bass, maybe, but never the kick drum.
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Gerry Seymour

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Re: All-in-one portable audio systems
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2013, 04:58:00 pm »

Gerry....

Yes, good to see you back "in action".

Whether you go with the "suitcase" system or a powered speaker/mixer with a second "satellite" speaker for coverage when needed, the speaker stands are still going to be the odd-shaped piece to haul.  As I said initially, one advantage of the Escort system is that the stands travel in the "suitcase".

Good luck.
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: All-in-one portable audio systems
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2013, 05:30:41 pm »

Gerry....

Yes, good to see you back "in action".

Whether you go with the "suitcase" system or a powered speaker/mixer with a second "satellite" speaker for coverage when needed, the speaker stands are still going to be the odd-shaped piece to haul.  As I said initially, one advantage of the Escort system is that the stands travel in the "suitcase".

Good luck.

Yup, that was not an accident... We had the luxury of studying what the Fender Passport did, both right and wrong, (more wrong IMO). While selling speaker stands separately might be a nice add-on sale for the dealers, it really pissed off the customers...  They also beleived their own BS about how much sound you could get from several mid-range drivers in series parallel... Perhaps OK for a one note PA that doesn't go low. I have a funny story about that I need to tell you some day.  8)

@ Jerry:  for voice only you could just about get away with small computer speakers. You don't need much size or power for midrange vocal reinforcement.

JR
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Caleb Dueck

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Re: All-in-one portable audio systems
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2013, 09:47:20 pm »

K10, some sort of stand, wired hand held or ear-worn wireless Mic.  Wireless if you need to use your hands.  Sound is decent, single source helps intelligibility and keeps cost down.
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Gerry Seymour

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Re: All-in-one portable audio systems
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2013, 11:34:31 pm »

@ Jerry:  for voice only you could just about get away with small computer speakers. You don't need much size or power for midrange vocal reinforcement.

A good point. In the past, I've only ever done SR where the "mood music" was as important to the host as the spoken words, so I had to depend on much more than I'll need in these situations. I tend to think toward systems that size, but I really don't need that in this case - not yet, anyway.

Yes, for the size of groups I'll likely deal with in the near term, I won't need much in the way of speakers. Leaves me leaning toward the two smaller Peavey systems (with, as noted, some stands to find a spot for).

In the longer term, the Escort provides probably the largest system I'd need to provide for myself. Anything larger than that I'd just rent.
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Gerry Seymour

Professional Trainer and Speaker
(with lighting/audio experience)


anything that moves will eventually die

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Gerry Seymour

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Re: All-in-one portable audio systems
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2013, 11:45:14 pm »

K10, some sort of stand, wired hand held or ear-worn wireless Mic.  Wireless if you need to use your hands.  Sound is decent, single source helps intelligibility and keeps cost down.

The single point would provide better intelligibility, but wouldn't allow me the flexibility for odd spaces (wider than deep, odd shapes, etc.). And while the K10 is a great cabinet, with plenty of inputs and controls on the back for this sort of use, it seems overkill for this application, and doesn't (as I recall) have an output for recording on a PC. If I were building a full rig, this would be an excellent option, rather than buying a separate "small rig" for these engagements.

On the whole, a solid recommendation, but it seems less-suited than the smaller Peavey systems in this case.
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Gerry Seymour

Professional Trainer and Speaker
(with lighting/audio experience)


anything that moves will eventually die

anything that doesn't move is probably already dead - James Feenstra
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