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Author Topic: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....  (Read 5319 times)

Mike Monte

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Several years ago I made the move from analog mixers to digital A&H mixers.  They work well for my applications.
My FOH rigs / monitors are all passive (powered by Crown Itech's, XTI's, and XS amps).
I also have two K8's that I use when I need to add a monitor here or there in a pinch.

I still have a couple analog mixers in my inventory (one gets used once a year and the other goes out a couple times per month.)

I have been tempted to move/sell my analog mixers plus one of my passive rigs to hop on an all-active system to "keep current" but to be truthful, my passive rigs work very well for my applications.

Other than to "keep current", I feel that going all-active would not get me more gigs as it would be a lateral move - while costing me $.

All of my gear has been paid for (for a while) and thus is churning up a bit of a profit on a regular basis.

Going from analog mixers to digital (iPad) remote mixing has gotten me more work however going to an all-active speaker rig may not realize an increase of work.

One of my sound buddy's uses passive speakers / power amps for his FOH rig for local outdoor festival work and, although the gear is 20+ years old, his rigs sound excellent.

Since many of you have ditched passive rigs and gone active, has it helped your business?  I am sure that some younger bands are impressed by the "latest and greatest" gear but for the most part, they all want is the best sound. 

I like new toys (gear) as much as the next guy/gal, however, spending $ for minimal gain seems foolish to me...plus the fact that I'm 60 y/o....

 


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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2019, 09:51:13 pm »

We have both powered and passive loudspeaker systems in our inventory.  When deploying a *system* I'm not sure either is significantly more or less work (or cables) than the other and most clients would neither notice nor care which we use.

The primary benefit of powered, arrayed loudspeakers is the vacancy of real estate beside, behind, or under the stage that had been used by the amp racks.  Depending on the kinds of shows you do this may be helpful or make no difference at all.

It's kind of like the "digital snake" fansboys who absolutely hate analog multipair, only to find out that CAT5e cable is a lot more fragile than the blue Whirlwind multi. ;)

Everything involves trade offs and frequently without clear winners.
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Bob Stone

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Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2019, 10:44:06 pm »

Having run both, I actually like passive for the ease of setup...power and signal goes to the amp rack and speaker cable goes to speakers. With active I need to run power and signal to each individual speaker which tends to take more time and more cables. On the other hand, active is nice because you don't need to haul around a big heavy amp rack and you can have more flexibility in deploying without having to re-rack things and with all the DSP built in, need less other components in the mix, and since most are bi/tri-amped and properly processed "out of the box", they're easier to get to sound good.

There's just a lot of factors...two speakers on a stick, give me active. Big stacks, give me passive. Flown array, could go either way but I'm not the one hauling that gear in at that point lol
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Mike Santarelli

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Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2019, 11:22:42 pm »

My mains are powered and monitors passive.

I once thought that active speakers would be faster and easier. Iíve since learned thatís not the case and have come back full circle to passive for monitor duty. I can throw out a bunch of srx712 and a single speakon cables much faster than xlr and power.

In a way I wish my foh were that simple too.  Maybe Danley one day. We shall see.


The key to passive is having them properly powered and processed.


Iíll take a good digital mixer over analog. There are times where a small analog board is the way to go but the flexibility and feature set of a digital board wins for me almost every time.


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Matt Greiner

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Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2019, 11:24:56 pm »

I recently upgraded my monitor rig from passive to powered.  I picked up some DSR112's, and I have no regrets in spending the money for them.  As Tim mentioned regarding space for the amp racks, I was able to eliminate 1 amp rack completely.  As I work on mostly smaller stages, it was a noticeable benefit immediately.  The DSR112's weigh approx the same as my old passive wedges, so the only weight loss was in the rack (150-200lbs) which is still a win, AND more space in the trailer.

Since that switch, I am strongly considering upgrading my single, passive 18's that I use for smaller gigs to some new RCF8003's.  However, it will definitely be an upgrade in sound quality (not a lateral move), and I will still see a net loss in weight and space.

As I reread your post, several things keep sticking out that you said.

I have been tempted to move/sell my analog mixers plus one of my passive rigs to hop on an all-active system to "keep current" but to be truthful, my passive rigs work very well for my applications.

Other than to "keep current", I feel that going all-active would not get me more gigs as it would be a lateral move - while costing me $.

All of my gear has been paid for (for a while) and thus is churning up a bit of a profit on a regular basis.

Going from analog mixers to digital (iPad) remote mixing has gotten me more work however going to an all-active speaker rig may not realize an increase of work.

It appears to me that the smart business and financial decision is to keep your current rig.  But, if it's your money, and you want to get some new toys, go for it.  I have a case of G.A.S., btw, so I may not be the most objective all the time.  ;)
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Tim Halligan

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Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2019, 12:26:19 am »


All of my gear has been paid for (for a while) and thus is churning up a bit of a profit on a regular basis.
 

There's your answer.

Cheers,
Tim
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Rob Spence

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Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2019, 12:42:57 am »

I have a rig for larger gigs, typically small festivals.
It is mostly passive. Subs are powered. I use some powered speakers for remote areas.

The rigs I use for smaller gigs get powered mains and subs but still passive monitors. With all the cables on a stage, eliminating a cable per monitor simplifies things and nothing on the back to mess up or bust.

I think Meyer has it right. Make it work well and you donít need 10 connectors, switches, lights, displays, and pots on the rear.
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Luke Geis

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Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2019, 01:29:22 am »

I finally sold off all my analog stuff about a year ago. I hadn't really used it much in the past 5 years and it was just taking up space. I still own a couple of passive speakers and a powered analog mixer for the small stuff if desired. I can't say I was ever truly 100% analog though. I got into doing sound about 17-18 years ago and digital was just on the cusp of being commercially available to the masses. I did about 200-300 hours of reading and research before I even bought my first speaker, so I was fairly certain of what I needed in order to get the ball rolling and I knew that digital devices were going to give me more power than traditional analog options at the time. Digital amps were not available yet and affordable digital mixers were not even a word. So I got a dbx Driverack as my first signal processor to go with my QSC RMX and JBL JRX speakers...... My first PA was a gratuitous garage band set up, at best. Needles to say, as digital options became available I was quick to jump on. Within a few years I had enough income generation to buy a whole new PA and was rocking a nice A&H GL2400 with Crown XTI amplification and Renkus Heinz monitors. I was also quick to buy into the JBL PRX line when it was first introduced. The processing for my monitoring was a pair of Behringer DEQ 2496's which is still even to this day, pretty desireable ( they go for $328 new and $150 used now, I was getting them for$75- $100 used many years ago ). Needless to say, I was fairly digital before digital was the mainstream. I am now 100% digital and have to be. I work for clients who hire me because they know I provide the best gear and service at a price they can afford and am hired by other companies that want someone who is well versed in all of the different digital tools. As both a system provider and a freelancer, I still make more money providing systems and running them than I do as just a freelancer. If I wasn't a digitally embraced Technician/Engineer, I wouldn't be where I am at. Some ask why I still freelance if providing system sis still more profitable? I don't intend to ever be a large scale system provider with line arrays or warehousing and employees. I prefer to learn and acquire experience and skill while using other's large scale systems and then apply that knowledge to my customer base who's needs are not as demanding. I can stay at the bleeding edge while still earning more providing services and systems to a median market. My business model is different from other places. I don't want the biggest shows, I want the profitable and sensible events that are sustainable and abundant. I can play with the big boy toys on someone else's dime, have fun and still make good money, and my way of doing this to me is well balanced and I get the best of both worlds.

Is going/staying analog crazy? Nah, it's not crazy. But it certainly isn't prudent to be an analog guy in a digital world. There is a guy in my area who is " old school " for lack of a better term. While he has a good business and does well enough, he just won't embrace digital. He is legitimate, don't mistake that, but he will never be able to offer the type of service that I or others can if he doesn't. His setups look bad and don't scream professional, and to boot, he isn't what I would call " bleeding edge " when it comes to setting up analog systems. This person is just acceptable at the job and his " as good as it get's " is about as good as others average day at the office. It is all because he is stuck in his idea of what good sound was. He started long before I was around and was probably at one point providing a superior service to others in the are, including me, and he just never advanced. He got left behind and is now that guy that is what many consider an ankle bitter. He has good business because he is the cheapest known entity in the area. His other character trait doesn't help. I have done work with and for him in the past and his idealism is VERY strong. There are backseat drivers, and there are those who just can't keep their opinions/thoughts to themselves; he is both of those. Not a bad thing, unless it's your gig he walks in on and provides his 2 pennies without your consent..... 

In the end, it all comes down to balance. If all you do is set up small ceremony systems for weddings and parties, then passive systems make total sense. If you deal with demanding bands and other's with more astute needs, you have to be fully digital in order to have NO EXCUSE. When you have to polish a turd, you have to have a fully digital arsenal to do it. When you just need to make good sound with minimal expectations ( based on scale, not opinion ) digital is the only answer. The only thing I miss about analog is people asking if I knew what every knob did... What I love about digital is people asking if I am controlling all the sound from the I-Pad...... Why yes, yes I am!
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2019, 01:34:33 am »

I finally sold off all my analog stuff about a year ago. I hadn't really used it much in the past 5 years and it was just taking up space. I still own a couple of passive speakers and a powered analog mixer for the small stuff if desired. I can't say I was ever truly 100% analog though. I got into doing sound about 17-18 years ago and digital was just on the cusp of being commercially available to the masses. I did about 200-300 hours of reading and research before I even bought my first speaker, so I was fairly certain of what I needed in order to get the ball rolling and I knew that digital devices were going to give me more power than traditional analog options at the time. Digital amps were not available yet and affordable digital mixers were not even a word. So I got a dbx Driverack as my first signal processor to go with my QSC RMX and JBL JRX speakers...... My first PA was a gratuitous garage band set up, at best. Needles to say, as digital options became available I was quick to jump on. Within a few years I had enough income generation to buy a whole new PA and was rocking a nice A&H GL2400 with Crown XTI amplification and Renkus Heinz monitors. I was also quick to buy into the JBL PRX line when it was first introduced. The processing for my monitoring was a pair of Behringer DEQ 2496's which is still even to this day, pretty desireable ( they go for $328 new and $150 used now, I was getting them for$75- $100 used many years ago ). Needless to say, I was fairly digital before digital was the mainstream. I am now 100% digital and have to be. I work for clients who hire me because they know I provide the best gear and service at a price they can afford and am hired by other companies that want someone who is well versed in all of the different digital tools. As both a system provider and a freelancer, I still make more money providing systems and running them than I do as just a freelancer. If I wasn't a digitally embraced Technician/Engineer, I wouldn't be where I am at. Some ask why I still freelance if providing system sis still more profitable? I don't intend to ever be a large scale system provider with line arrays or warehousing and employees. I prefer to learn and acquire experience and skill while using other's large scale systems and then apply that knowledge to my customer base who's needs are not as demanding. I can stay at the bleeding edge while still earning more providing services and systems to a median market. My business model is different from other places. I don't want the biggest shows, I want the profitable and sensible events that are sustainable and abundant. I can play with the big boy toys on someone else's dime, have fun and still make good money, and my way of doing this to me is well balanced and I get the best of both worlds.

Is going/staying analog crazy? Nah, it's not crazy. But it certainly isn't prudent to be an analog guy in a digital world. There is a guy in my area who is " old school " for lack of a better term. While he has a good business and does well enough, he just won't embrace digital. He is legitimate, don't mistake that, but he will never be able to offer the type of service that I or others can if he doesn't. His setups look bad and don't scream professional, and to boot, he isn't what I would call " bleeding edge " when it comes to setting up analog systems. This person is just acceptable at the job and his " as good as it get's " is about as good as others average day at the office. It is all because he is stuck in his idea of what good sound was. He started long before I was around and was probably at one point providing a superior service to others in the are, including me, and he just never advanced. He got left behind and is now that guy that is what many consider an ankle bitter. He has good business because he is the cheapest known entity in the area. His other character trait doesn't help. I have done work with and for him in the past and his idealism is VERY strong. There are backseat drivers, and there are those who just can't keep their opinions/thoughts to themselves; he is both of those. Not a bad thing, unless it's your gig he walks in on and provides his 2 pennies without your consent..... 

In the end, it all comes down to balance. If all you do is set up small ceremony systems for weddings and parties, then passive systems make total sense. If you deal with demanding bands and other's with more astute needs, you have to be fully digital in order to have NO EXCUSE. When you have to polish a turd, you have to have a fully digital arsenal to do it. When you just need to make good sound with minimal expectations ( based on scale, not opinion ) digital is the only answer. The only thing I miss about analog is people asking if I knew what every knob did... What I love about digital is people asking if I am controlling all the sound from the I-Pad...... Why yes, yes I am!

Powered speakers are still analog.  They may or may not have some digital processing. 

I think that both passive and powered speakers have a roll.  They still sell passive speakers.  It just depends on your workflow.  The problem is the younger generation brought up on x32's and powered speakers don't know what to do with a processor and a passive rig. 

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Bob Faulkner

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Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2019, 06:48:17 am »

FOH Subs - passive
FOH mid/high - active
FOH center-fill - active
monitors - passive
Speakers on a stick - active
consoles - analog and digital
snakes - all analog

All of my customers do not care if the sound system is analog or digital... just as long as it works and performs as expected.  As well, we get equipment to fulfill a need... we have never bought anything (i.e. as a toy/gadget) that we didn't have a need for.

I'm agnostic to analog vs digital.  They both have a place in live sound for the events we do.

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Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
¬ę Reply #9 on: August 27, 2019, 06:48:17 am ¬Ľ


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