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Author Topic: RCF NX 45-A Speaker  (Read 1213 times)

Gordon Brinton

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RCF NX 45-A Speaker
« on: September 30, 2018, 02:07:27 pm »

My Background:
I've been running live sound and mixing in studios for well over 20 years. As a result of my studio work, I've become quite comfortable with EQing, compression, effects, gain staging, and so on. That knowledge and experience undoubtedly lends itself to improved live mixes. That is to say that when sound checking and mixing, I can usually always dial in a pleasing and natural sound within minutes. I've also been a home stereo audiophile and studio designer for many years. (I am just pointing out that I am no stranger to good quality sound, hopefully giving this review sufficient credibility.) However, I believe a sound guy is only as good as his equipment. If the speakers don't respond well to adjustments and corrections, the entire system can seem cumbersome and underwhelming.

I've mixed on a lot of MI level speakers including JBL, Turbosound, Peavey, Mackie, and Yorkville. I currently own, EV ELX-112, Yamaha DXR12, Yamaha DSR112, Grund Audio ST-152, and OAP UBF-622, (as well as various subs that don't need mentioning for this review). These boxes all sound fairly typical, just mediocre for bar gigs. None have anything special to write home about, but I can get a pretty darn good mix on each of them because I know them well.

When I am not running sound on weekends, I sometimes go out with friends to see local or regional rock and country bands and to have a good time. (Well Ok, maybe I also want to see what the competition is up to.) All too often, those shows sound typically common...some too loud, some distorted, blurred, scooped, bottom heavy or no bottom at all, unintelligible, and some are just all around sucky. But every once in a blue moon I'll stumble into a nice venue and the sound system appears absolutely splendid. Everything seems crystal clear and coherent, yet it's not in-my-face loud. The highs are crisp and present, but not harsh or shrilly. Backup vocals are easy to notice. The mix is busy, but yet it's still easy to focus my attention on any single instrument. I can even make out the overtones and distinctive nuances between instruments. I usually stay and enjoy, but when I do finally walk out, I think to myself; why can't I get my system to sound like that? I want that sound. I know that I could do a great mix if I only had better gear.

Categorizing this Speaker:
Enter the RCF NX 45-A. I've finally made the jump to what I consider to be above the MI level threshold. Some sound professionals may not consider this speaker to be among the best pro touring boxes, but they are certainly head and shoulders above your typical guitar store speakers.

If you could group all point source speakers in the world into three main categories labelled Poor, Better, and Best, these would probably fall somewhere between the upper end of the Better category and the lower end of the Best category. I think this speaker perfectly bridges the gap between sub $1000 MI speakers and the $4000+ per box upper tier. They have top end sparkle without being harsh. They have crystal clear separation and excellent imaging in the mid-range. They have fast enough transient response to make a memorable impression. They have sufficient low end when used without subs. It surely approaches some of the great qualities and merits of the upper tier speakers, but without the hefty price tag. It enables the more serious weekend warriors to operate with a better sounding system.

For years, I've wondered what it is that makes high-end pro boxes so much better and so much more expensive. Is it just brand name hype or is there really some magical soup that makes them different? Well, I am pretty certain now that the devil is in the details. When companies put more time, research, money, and effort into their designs, the resulting product line is usually far superior. RCF has certainly done that. You don't have to be an expert to hear the difference. I certainly can when I A/B them with my DSR's.

When you use good speakers for the first time, it quickly becomes obvious that you have the right tools to do a good job. It becomes easier to make almost anything sound good and natural. The boxes tend to behave themselves and respond well to your corrections and adjustments. They are more likely to work WITH you rather than against you. You soon discover that you can bring things to the top of the mix more easily without simply making them loud as hell.

This is basically an ART 745-A MK4 on steroids. The wooden cabinet really improves and enriches the sound of the LF driver. This eliminates any plastic resonant boxy sound. It also contributes to your being able to make most instruments sound more realistic. On the other hand, it allows for harder EQing in the low-mid range, such as with bass guitar, without things getting quite so ugly. (BTW, the reason I chose 15's instead of 12's is because of the way I typically EQ bass guitar.) I understand that they have also given the DPS a few tweaks for added safety.

How they Sound:
They are somewhat similar to coaxial speakers in that the majority of the frequency range comes from a single point. This enables them to be more coherent, at least down to the crossover point. I can observe this quality by moving back away from the speakers while they play music. All the parts to the music tend to remain present and balanced at a greater distance from the stage compared to my other speakers. The mids and highs don't drop off quite so soon while moving back. I haven't yet used them in larger rooms, but I am hoping this translates into better coverage at the rear of venues without killing the front rows.

They have noticeably better transient response than my DSR112's. In case you didn't know, this is the speed, strength, and control of the initial attack of percussive sounds. Speakers with fast transient response are more vibrant and can make music have more impact and authority without necessarily being louder. Things like snare hits, acoustic string plucks, and many vocal syllables can easily be made to stand out and sound forceful and punchy. Because of this, the NX 45-A's mid-range, (650Hz to 1500Hz,) is slightly more outward and profound, but not overbearing. What I mean is, everything appears more sharply defined rather than the slightly dull or softly compressed nature of cone drivers.

I also find it much easier to notice minor EQ and volume changes in this area. With my DSR's and DXR's, an EQ change of 1 or 2 dB was barely noticeable. However, when using the NX, volume and EQ changes that tiny are not only noticeable, they are obvious and precise. Likewise, it is easy to recognize when you've pushed your EQing too far.

They seem more sensitive or efficient than my other speakers. Although it doesn't make much difference, I happen to be running the input sensitivity far lower than I had on the DSR's and DXR's, (10 o'clock on the NX -vs- 2 o'clock on the DSR) in order to balance with the subs.

My DSR's had always seemed bright in the mid-highs, (4000Hz to 8000Hz,) but not very hearty above that range. I remember having to push up a slight high EQ shelf in order to get them to have more air or breath.  The NX top-end clearly has more sparkle and vivacity. However, they seem better balanced throughout the entire 650Hz to 20,000Hz range. The artificial high-mid hump isn't there. Instead, everything seems to be reproduced accurately. If there are high overtones or air present in the source material, then that's what you hear coming out of the speakers. If there is not, then you don't hear it. It's that simple.

Overall, these speakers sound amazing. They approach what I had describe in my third paragraph above. They reproduce everything accurately as expected. I finally have better tools to do my job in a more professional manner. Running sound is more delightful now because my system accommodates me rather than me accommodating my system. Stereo imaging seems more apparent in a larger portion of the room now. Sometimes I wonder if techs who prefer to run their systems mono, is because they have not experienced good imaging before. (Not opening a can of worms here, just curious.) In fact, these speakers may perform better in mono configuration. IDK. I haven't tried it yet.

I genuinely feel that this was a step upward from my DRS's, rather than a lateral move. I believe it was money well spent, as the improved sound quality should lead to higher paying gigs for me. If you are used to using higher-end gear, these speakers may not make a big impression. Though, if you are used to mixing on low budget/MI level gear, then you are in for a nice surprise. You can probably get them for a great price if you call an authorized dealer and make an offer. I did.

LIKES:
-   Its crystal clear sound makes mixing easier. Duh!
-   The handle grips are covered with soft rubber providing non-slip and comfortable feel.
-   Much improved appearance over the 745A's exposed horn. It has the classic black grill look.
-   It comes with a long heavy Powercon cable. (10 foot, 14 AWG)
-   Can be used as a floor wedge.
-   Only about 6 lbs. heavier than my DSR's. Not too bad for a 15 speaker.
DISLIKES:
-   It has good DSP, but no High-Pass-Filter. (I use a good quality rackmount digital speaker mgt system.)
-   No rubber feet. It slides around too easily on hard floors and the bottom may be getting all scratched up. (But it's easy enough to add my own rubber feet for only a few pennies.)
-   About 6 lbs. heavier than my DSR's. I'm not getting any younger.
-   My new speaker covers for them haven't arrived yet. :(
« Last Edit: September 30, 2018, 02:26:53 pm by Gordon Brinton »
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Luis_Marquez

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Re: RCF NX 45-A Speaker
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2018, 05:38:30 pm »

My Background:
I've been running live sound and mixing in studios for well over 20 years. As a result of my studio work, I've become quite comfortable with EQing, compression, effects, gain staging, and so on. That knowledge and experience undoubtedly lends itself to improved live mixes. That is to say that when sound checking and mixing, I can usually always dial in a pleasing and natural sound within minutes. I've also been a home stereo audiophile and studio designer for many years. (I am just pointing out that I am no stranger to good quality sound, hopefully giving this review sufficient credibility.) However, I believe a sound guy is only as good as his equipment. If the speakers don't respond well to adjustments and corrections, the entire system can seem cumbersome and underwhelming.

I've mixed on a lot of MI level speakers including JBL, Turbosound, Peavey, Mackie, and Yorkville. I currently own, EV ELX-112, Yamaha DXR12, Yamaha DSR112, Grund Audio ST-152, and OAP UBF-622, (as well as various subs that don't need mentioning for this review). These boxes all sound fairly typical, just mediocre for bar gigs. None have anything special to write home about, but I can get a pretty darn good mix on each of them because I know them well.

When I am not running sound on weekends, I sometimes go out with friends to see local or regional rock and country bands and to have a good time. (Well Ok, maybe I also want to see what the competition is up to.) All too often, those shows sound typically common...some too loud, some distorted, blurred, scooped, bottom heavy or no bottom at all, unintelligible, and some are just all around sucky. But every once in a blue moon I'll stumble into a nice venue and the sound system appears absolutely splendid. Everything seems crystal clear and coherent, yet it's not in-my-face loud. The highs are crisp and present, but not harsh or shrilly. Backup vocals are easy to notice. The mix is busy, but yet it's still easy to focus my attention on any single instrument. I can even make out the overtones and distinctive nuances between instruments. I usually stay and enjoy, but when I do finally walk out, I think to myself; why can't I get my system to sound like that? I want that sound. I know that I could do a great mix if I only had better gear.

Categorizing this Speaker:
Enter the RCF NX 45-A. I've finally made the jump to what I consider to be above the MI level threshold. Some sound professionals may not consider this speaker to be among the best pro touring boxes, but they are certainly head and shoulders above your typical guitar store speakers.

If you could group all point source speakers in the world into three main categories labelled Poor, Better, and Best, these would probably fall somewhere between the upper end of the Better category and the lower end of the Best category. I think this speaker perfectly bridges the gap between sub $1000 MI speakers and the $4000+ per box upper tier. They have top end sparkle without being harsh. They have crystal clear separation and excellent imaging in the mid-range. They have fast enough transient response to make a memorable impression. They have sufficient low end when used without subs. It surely approaches some of the great qualities and merits of the upper tier speakers, but without the hefty price tag. It enables the more serious weekend warriors to operate with a better sounding system.

For years, I've wondered what it is that makes high-end pro boxes so much better and so much more expensive. Is it just brand name hype or is there really some magical soup that makes them different? Well, I am pretty certain now that the devil is in the details. When companies put more time, research, money, and effort into their designs, the resulting product line is usually far superior. RCF has certainly done that. You don't have to be an expert to hear the difference. I certainly can when I A/B them with my DSR's.

When you use good speakers for the first time, it quickly becomes obvious that you have the right tools to do a good job. It becomes easier to make almost anything sound good and natural. The boxes tend to behave themselves and respond well to your corrections and adjustments. They are more likely to work WITH you rather than against you. You soon discover that you can bring things to the top of the mix more easily without simply making them loud as hell.

This is basically an ART 745-A MK4 on steroids. The wooden cabinet really improves and enriches the sound of the LF driver. This eliminates any plastic resonant boxy sound. It also contributes to your being able to make most instruments sound more realistic. On the other hand, it allows for harder EQing in the low-mid range, such as with bass guitar, without things getting quite so ugly. (BTW, the reason I chose 15's instead of 12's is because of the way I typically EQ bass guitar.) I understand that they have also given the DPS a few tweaks for added safety.

How they Sound:
They are somewhat similar to coaxial speakers in that the majority of the frequency range comes from a single point. This enables them to be more coherent, at least down to the crossover point. I can observe this quality by moving back away from the speakers while they play music. All the parts to the music tend to remain present and balanced at a greater distance from the stage compared to my other speakers. The mids and highs don't drop off quite so soon while moving back. I haven't yet used them in larger rooms, but I am hoping this translates into better coverage at the rear of venues without killing the front rows.

They have noticeably better transient response than my DSR112's. In case you didn't know, this is the speed, strength, and control of the initial attack of percussive sounds. Speakers with fast transient response are more vibrant and can make music have more impact and authority without necessarily being louder. Things like snare hits, acoustic string plucks, and many vocal syllables can easily be made to stand out and sound forceful and punchy. Because of this, the NX 45-A's mid-range, (650Hz to 1500Hz,) is slightly more outward and profound, but not overbearing. What I mean is, everything appears more sharply defined rather than the slightly dull or softly compressed nature of cone drivers.

I also find it much easier to notice minor EQ and volume changes in this area. With my DSR's and DXR's, an EQ change of 1 or 2 dB was barely noticeable. However, when using the NX, volume and EQ changes that tiny are not only noticeable, they are obvious and precise. Likewise, it is easy to recognize when you've pushed your EQing too far.

They seem more sensitive or efficient than my other speakers. Although it doesn't make much difference, I happen to be running the input sensitivity far lower than I had on the DSR's and DXR's, (10 o'clock on the NX -vs- 2 o'clock on the DSR) in order to balance with the subs.

My DSR's had always seemed bright in the mid-highs, (4000Hz to 8000Hz,) but not very hearty above that range. I remember having to push up a slight high EQ shelf in order to get them to have more air or breath.  The NX top-end clearly has more sparkle and vivacity. However, they seem better balanced throughout the entire 650Hz to 20,000Hz range. The artificial high-mid hump isn't there. Instead, everything seems to be reproduced accurately. If there are high overtones or air present in the source material, then that's what you hear coming out of the speakers. If there is not, then you don't hear it. It's that simple.

Overall, these speakers sound amazing. They approach what I had describe in my third paragraph above. They reproduce everything accurately as expected. I finally have better tools to do my job in a more professional manner. Running sound is more delightful now because my system accommodates me rather than me accommodating my system. Stereo imaging seems more apparent in a larger portion of the room now. Sometimes I wonder if techs who prefer to run their systems mono, is because they have not experienced good imaging before. (Not opening a can of worms here, just curious.) In fact, these speakers may perform better in mono configuration. IDK. I haven't tried it yet.

I genuinely feel that this was a step upward from my DRS's, rather than a lateral move. I believe it was money well spent, as the improved sound quality should lead to higher paying gigs for me. If you are used to using higher-end gear, these speakers may not make a big impression. Though, if you are used to mixing on low budget/MI level gear, then you are in for a nice surprise. You can probably get them for a great price if you call an authorized dealer and make an offer. I did.

LIKES:
-   Its crystal clear sound makes mixing easier. Duh!
-   The handle grips are covered with soft rubber providing non-slip and comfortable feel.
-   Much improved appearance over the 745A's exposed horn. It has the classic black grill look.
-   It comes with a long heavy Powercon cable. (10 foot, 14 AWG)
-   Can be used as a floor wedge.
-   Only about 6 lbs. heavier than my DSR's. Not too bad for a 15 speaker.
DISLIKES:
-   It has good DSP, but no High-Pass-Filter. (I use a good quality rackmount digital speaker mgt system.)
-   No rubber feet. It slides around too easily on hard floors and the bottom may be getting all scratched up. (But it's easy enough to add my own rubber feet for only a few pennies.)
-   About 6 lbs. heavier than my DSR's. I'm not getting any younger.
-   My new speaker covers for them haven't arrived yet. :(

Gordon

Nice review. Very informative. Especially comparing it to the beloved dsr112. Maybe sometime in the future it can be compared to the dB IG3T/IG4T

It appears rcf used the hf950 horn in the nx-45.
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Andrea Litti

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Re: RCF NX 45-A Speaker
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2018, 09:33:20 am »

I have owned two IG3T's for a year, I think that they absolutely don't live up to their declared specs. I sold them, bought two Art 745's which, IMHO, destroy the IG3T's in all fields (louder, better sounding, easier to handle, similar in weight), then bought two other 745's to have two twin systems (with 2x 8004 subs each). Do you find the NX45 to be better sounding AND also louder than the 745? Thanks
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: RCF NX 45-A Speaker
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2018, 10:05:32 am »

I have owned two IG3T's for a year, I think that they absolutely don't live up to their declared specs.

It's exceptionally rare to find anything that does.
http://www.prosoundweb.com/channels/live-sound/spec-wars-looking-inside-loudspeaker-spl-specifications/

Chris
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Andrea Litti

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Re: RCF NX 45-A Speaker
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2018, 11:08:01 am »

Hahaha of course :) I've read the article obviously, I guess I've made a long story too short... I was referring to the performance of the IG3T's compared to other less-than-1900-/$-each upper tier lounge level active speakers with declared max SPL performance equal or higher than 130dB (various models by RCF, JBL, EV, Yamaha, QSC etc. often discussed here). IMHO there's no way the IG3T even remotely approach that figure before their limiter starts degrading the sound.
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Peter Morris

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Re: RCF NX 45-A Speaker
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2018, 07:50:56 am »

Gordon

Nice review. Very informative. Especially comparing it to the beloved dsr112. Maybe sometime in the future it can be compared to the dB IG3T/IG4T

It appears rcf used the hf950 horn in the nx-45.

FWIW I have both the IG4T and RCF TT25AMK2 (very similar to the NX45)... both are excellent, the IGT4 is really a mid high box or vocals only. It has a very small visual impact, wide dispersion and throws well. In terms of sound quality its very "nice" with a warm smooth and detailed sound.  It will make quite a bit of SPL especially on top of a sub crossed at 120 Hz. Two boxes stacked on top of each other works very well and you get almost 6 dB more SPL and some beam steering. This works much better that sticking two 12+ horn boxes side by side that I see so often.

In comparison the TT25 is louder has more bass but the HF is not quite as detailed. Its a great general purpose 15 and horn, about as good as it gets, it makes a great wedge, small drum fill or FOH. I often used it for side fill with or without a sub or as a small FOH.

The IG4T shines when you need minimal visual impact, excellent throw and a wide coverage angle.

Both boxes are excellent, but they are really designed for slightly different applications. I have not heard the IG3T to comment on their performance. 



 
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