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Author Topic: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX  (Read 1428 times)

Andrew Cole

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Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« on: September 15, 2019, 09:01:00 pm »

So earlier this week one of our speakers bit the dust. Now all of our equipment is well over 20 years old and the speakers specifically are homemade so it's amazing they've lasted this long. Our current setup is two 12" mains and two 15" subs/mains run in parallel and the system has WAY more juice than we could ever need. Our amp is a Samson SX2800 (so not high quality) and the knobs are set between 8 and 9 o'clock.

Well I'm trying to price out something to replace the speakers/amps with something newer. I've been looking online and I was wondering if there was any thoughts on the JBL PRX line? I'm specifically looking at 2 PRX812W 12" powered speakers for mains and a single PRX818XLFW 18" powered sub which should all equal around $1500 without taxes and new cabling. Our budget is around $2500 max and the JBL SRX line is too pricey. Are there any other set ups I should be looking at? I know $2500 isn't a very large budget but we don't run our system very loud at all. I'm fairly sure we keep the db level in the sanctuary to the low 80s during worship.

I'm not opposed to keeping the system passive, I just have more experience with powered speakers and there seems to be more options out there.

Worship band includes a couple vocalists, drums, and acoustic guitar every week with electric guitar, bass, and piano in the mix various Sundays.

Pertinent sanctuary info:
Room is roughly 60' W x 120' L
Walls are 8' H and the ceiling arches to 16' at the center
MAX occupancy in pews is 200 people. That's only rarely for events/Easter/Christmas. Normal size is between 70-130 people.


Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2019, 02:57:45 am »

So earlier this week one of our speakers bit the dust. Now all of our equipment is well over 20 years old and the speakers specifically are homemade so it's amazing they've lasted this long. Our current setup is two 12" mains and two 15" subs/mains run in parallel and the system has WAY more juice than we could ever need. Our amp is a Samson SX2800 (so not high quality) and the knobs are set between 8 and 9 o'clock.

Well I'm trying to price out something to replace the speakers/amps with something newer. I've been looking online and I was wondering if there was any thoughts on the JBL PRX line? I'm specifically looking at 2 PRX812W 12" powered speakers for mains and a single PRX818XLFW 18" powered sub which should all equal around $1500 without taxes and new cabling. Our budget is around $2500 max and the JBL SRX line is too pricey. Are there any other set ups I should be looking at? I know $2500 isn't a very large budget but we don't run our system very loud at all. I'm fairly sure we keep the db level in the sanctuary to the low 80s during worship.

I'm not opposed to keeping the system passive, I just have more experience with powered speakers and there seems to be more options out there.

Worship band includes a couple vocalists, drums, and acoustic guitar every week with electric guitar, bass, and piano in the mix various Sundays.

Pertinent sanctuary info:
Room is roughly 60' W x 120' L
Walls are 8' H and the ceiling arches to 16' at the center
MAX occupancy in pews is 200 people. That's only rarely for events/Easter/Christmas. Normal size is between 70-130 people.


Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Do you guys read the current threads or archives or simply just post away?

There are literally 2 active threads on this same subject.

Who set the $2500 budget?  Picking some number arbitrarily then forcing a product you like into the budget is a very common mistake made by church staff.

The basic gist of these posts is you can't just take a portable speaker and use it for installation and expect good results.  Speakers for installation should be designed for that task.

What is your budget for mounting and getting power to the speakers if you end up with an active box?

What do you have now?  Any amps or processing to be reused?


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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Andrew Cole

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Re: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2019, 06:34:53 pm »

Do you guys read the current threads or archives or simply just post away?

There are literally 2 active threads on this same subject.

Who set the $2500 budget?  Picking some number arbitrarily then forcing a product you like into the budget is a very common mistake made by church staff.

The basic gist of these posts is you can't just take a portable speaker and use it for installation and expect good results.  Speakers for installation should be designed for that task.

What is your budget for mounting and getting power to the speakers if you end up with an active box?

What do you have now?  Any amps or processing to be reused?

Nope, I didn't search but I did go about 5 pages back in this subforum and the LAB lounge and the threads I saw either had venues smaller or much larger than mine. So that's on me for not searching. The church subforum is particularly annoying to browse since half of the threads are just article ads.

The $2500 budget is what the elders THINK we can raise in a month or two. Money is really tight for us right now and most money is being stored for heat this winter (we have a hungry oil furnace).

I would LOVE to just hire this out to a professional but we quite obviously don't have the funds and PA systems are not my Forte. I've been saying for months we need to put money away for this but now that we lost a speaker it's a higher priority *shrug*

What would you expect a decent budget to be for our needs? Another local church let us borrow a couple of their speakers until we can replace ours. Depending on what a decent budget would be we might be able to continue with loaners until we can get there.
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2019, 08:30:03 pm »

Nope, I didn't search but I did go about 5 pages back in this subforum and the LAB lounge and the threads I saw either had venues smaller or much larger than mine. So that's on me for not searching. The church subforum is particularly annoying to browse since half of the threads are just article ads.

The $2500 budget is what the elders THINK we can raise in a month or two. Money is really tight for us right now and most money is being stored for heat this winter (we have a hungry oil furnace).

I would LOVE to just hire this out to a professional but we quite obviously don't have the funds and PA systems are not my Forte. I've been saying for months we need to put money away for this but now that we lost a speaker it's a higher priority *shrug*

What would you expect a decent budget to be for our needs? Another local church let us borrow a couple of their speakers until we can replace ours. Depending on what a decent budget would be we might be able to continue with loaners until we can get there.
What type of music?  Are the current speakers on stands or flown?  If flown getting electrical work done could eat up most of your budget.  If the old speakers are flown safety is very import, are they safely and properly flown to manufacturers specs?

What kind of board?  Crossover?  Is one channel of the amp subs and the other mains?  The SX Samson's really aren't too bad.  I have a 8 of them in my home theater!   The level controls on the amp should be wide open.  Keeps people from messing up.

Depending on answers I am hoping a small column array is more suited for your needs.

I would also borrow the speakers as long as you can until you make the right decision.  Spending around a budget is usually doomed for failure.

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Brian Jojade

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Re: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2019, 11:57:36 pm »

A 60 X 120 room is NOT small.  However your expectations of the system capabilities will determine how much you need to put in to make it work.  A pair of PRX's might do the job for some vocal work, or light music work.  You will NOT have even coverage through the room with a pair of speakers on sticks.

If you fly the speakers, you'll need to have power installed at the fly point. Extension cords in permanent installations are forbidden.  Getting outlets installed isn't inexpensive.

Permanently installing powered speakers is something I try to avoid whenever possible.  The most common thing to fail in a powered speaker is the amp.  Passive speakers, powered and used properly very rarely fail.  Seeing passive speakers hang for 20-30 or more years without being touched is not uncommon.  Having amps go that long is far less common.  And when an amp fails, getting the lift or ladders there to remove the speaker and repair/replace it can be a problem.  If it needs to be replaced after that speaker is out of production, getting one to match the look of the other could be a problem too.

The artificially low $2500 budget should be considered a bandaid budget.  Enough to get you something to piece together for the short term, and then you should have enough left over to hire a consultant to actually design a workable system for the room.  Yes, it's a hard sell to get a church to do spend money to do things right.  Money will always be tight unless you get the one holding the purse strings behind the idea.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2019, 09:52:34 pm »

Scott - current speakers are in a kind of weird spot. Our stage has a lower ceiling with an attic above it. The speakers are mounted in the attic with a mesh grill over the hole in the walls. Now new speakers can go in the same spot (I think it's weird them being in an uninsulated area) or be wall mounted and the holes patched. I don't think flown will work with our wall situation. As far as electrical work, most of our congregation are tradesman so that kind of thing comes cheap.

I thought Samson amps were not known for quality? If we put the levels at full I'm not sure we'd have any windows left haha. Our board is a very old but so far trusty A&H Gl2200 and unfortunately everything is running mono in parallel. So no crossover is being done at all. This system was NOT set up correctly. I'm not good with PA systems and even I could tell that at first glance. Oh and type of music is basic contemporary worship. Drums (only kick and snare really going through the system bc everything else carries), upright piano, acoustic guitar, bass, electric, and a couple singers.

Brian - I'm going to try and measure the room at band practice tomorrow. I was guesstimating on the dimensions. I'm going to try and snap a picture of the wall above the stage I mentioned earlier as well. Good point on the passive VS powered and longetivity.

Thank you guys very much for your help so far! It's not a great place to be when you lose a speaker and the sound system isn't your specialty. Budget doesn't help either. The next elders meeting we're going to have to have a serious talk about budget and how to at least try and set this up correctly down the road.
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2019, 02:41:19 am »

Scott - current speakers are in a kind of weird spot. Our stage has a lower ceiling with an attic above it. The speakers are mounted in the attic with a mesh grill over the hole in the walls. Now new speakers can go in the same spot (I think it's weird them being in an uninsulated area) or be wall mounted and the holes patched. I don't think flown will work with our wall situation. As far as electrical work, most of our congregation are tradesman so that kind of thing comes cheap.

I thought Samson amps were not known for quality? If we put the levels at full I'm not sure we'd have any windows left haha. Our board is a very old but so far trusty A&H Gl2200 and unfortunately everything is running mono in parallel. So no crossover is being done at all. This system was NOT set up correctly. I'm not good with PA systems and even I could tell that at first glance. Oh and type of music is basic contemporary worship. Drums (only kick and snare really going through the system bc everything else carries), upright piano, acoustic guitar, bass, electric, and a couple singers.

Brian - I'm going to try and measure the room at band practice tomorrow. I was guesstimating on the dimensions. I'm going to try and snap a picture of the wall above the stage I mentioned earlier as well. Good point on the passive VS powered and longetivity.

Thank you guys very much for your help so far! It's not a great place to be when you lose a speaker and the sound system isn't your specialty. Budget doesn't help either. The next elders meeting we're going to have to have a serious talk about budget and how to at least try and set this up correctly down the road.

As long as you keep thinking that the controls on the amp adjust the volume you are going to have a hard time with the concepts and designs being discussed. 

I don't even understand how your subs are working if they don't have a crossover.  Do you hear voice frequencies out of them?

Running the system in mono is normal and proper.  I would start with just replacing the bad driver and using one side of the amp for highs/mids and the other for the subs.  Are the subs on the ground?  Fixing what you have will allow you to learn how to properly deploy and tune a PA and then truly hone in on the deficiencies that need to be addressed.  If you can bring in a consultant all the better.

WRT tradesman I have spent a lifetime looking at the work and am more frequently appalled then pleased.  Unless you have a good commercial electrician that can pull a permit then you are likely just going to get some romex tossed up in the attic.

I know I am negative but have watched this ship sail in so many different HOW's I want to do everything I can to help your alter your course before you waste precious resources.

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

Ghost Audio Visual Solutions, LLC
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Andrew Cole

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Re: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2019, 06:21:00 am »

As long as you keep thinking that the controls on the amp adjust the volume you are going to have a hard time with the concepts and designs being discussed. 

I don't even understand how your subs are working if they don't have a crossover.  Do you hear voice frequencies out of them?

Running the system in mono is normal and proper.  I would start with just replacing the bad driver and using one side of the amp for highs/mids and the other for the subs.  Are the subs on the ground?  Fixing what you have will allow you to learn how to properly deploy and tune a PA and then truly hone in on the deficiencies that need to be addressed.  If you can bring in a consultant all the better.

WRT tradesman I have spent a lifetime looking at the work and am more frequently appalled then pleased.  Unless you have a good commercial electrician that can pull a permit then you are likely just going to get some romex tossed up in the attic.

I know I am negative but have watched this ship sail in so many different HOW's I want to do everything I can to help your alter your course before you waste precious resources.
The negativity is OK, I appreciate the input!

The knobs on the amp are actually labeled volume haha. In the past I thought power Amp knobs controlled the gain.

I'm calling them subs only bc theyre either 15" or 18" speakers. I was told they're 15s but I haven't verified that myself since you have to disassemble things to check. Let's say they're 15s, the way they're wired, they're acting as 15" mains. They're also in the attic mounted next to the 12s. So there's a 15 and a 12 on each side. Now when the speaker blew, the sound guy said he lost most of the high end on the left side. I wasn't there at the time though. When I checked the wiring, each side is in parallel I believe (12 wired directly to the 15/18 is parallel correct?)

I have been learning a lot about PA systems this way at least haha
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2019, 10:09:08 am »

The negativity is OK, I appreciate the input!

The knobs on the amp are actually labeled volume haha. In the past I thought power Amp knobs controlled the gain.

I'm calling them subs only bc theyre either 15" or 18" speakers. I was told they're 15s but I haven't verified that myself since you have to disassemble things to check. Let's say they're 15s, the way they're wired, they're acting as 15" mains. They're also in the attic mounted next to the 12s. So there's a 15 and a 12 on each side. Now when the speaker blew, the sound guy said he lost most of the high end on the left side. I wasn't there at the time though. When I checked the wiring, each side is in parallel I believe (12 wired directly to the 15/18 is parallel correct?)

I have been learning a lot about PA systems this way at least haha
  is there a crossover in that cabinet?  So lets get the diaphragm fixed on that speaker and go from there, 
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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Andrew Cole

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Re: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2019, 09:15:19 pm »

  is there a crossover in that cabinet?  So lets get the diaphragm fixed on that speaker and go from there,

OK, so I learned I'm terrible at guessing room sizes. Our sanctuary is: 40ft W x 60ft L x 12ft H at the peak.

No crossovers for sure. The 15 (verified) and 12 for each side is connected via banana clips *sigh* at the amp. Nevermind the amp has perfectly good speak on connectors.

I'm attaching images of the wall above the stage I mentioned and of the homemade speakers in the attic. The white wooden boxes are the homemade enclosures for the speakers  :'(

I talked to the pastor about a stop gap fix for now (he wasn't opposed) and saving for a legit redo but we need a goal to set. Now that I have better info, what are the opinions on a ballpark budget for a professional setup? 10k? 20k?
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Re: Replacing PA System - Thoughts on JBL PRX
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2019, 09:15:19 pm »


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