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Author Topic: Speaker Advice Needed  (Read 5550 times)

Don Capps

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Speaker Advice Needed
« on: February 21, 2011, 10:52:53 am »

Hi. I really covet some speaker advice from people who work with PA day and and say out. I'll try to be as detailed as possible about our needs in my initial post.

I'm a semi-pro musician - ie: I don't make a full time living from music, but I do make a decent supplemental income. I play in an R&B band - but we really work on the arrangements. Think R&B meets a more crunchy rock and roll sound and you're pretty close. It's a sound not too far from Huey Lewis & The News...minus the horns. A very dynamic sound.

Besides the occasional club gig, we play mostly weddings and corporate events. So the places we play vary widely in size from small clubs to medium and even large sized venues. Up until now, we have gotten by with speakers on a stick - JBL Eons to be precise. But they are woefully inadequate for many of our gigs, so we end up renting larger and more powerful speakers. Recently, we decided we needed to invest in new speakers of our own. We'd LIKE to buy something full range (3 way?) so we could run drums and keys through them as well as vocals without distressing the speakers too much. That's where you guys come in.

1. Powered speakers: We've looked at a couple of the relevant contenders here - JBL and QSC - haven't heard the new Mackies. Both the JBL and QSC three ways sounded good playing demo material at pretty high volumes. But as you well know, that's a far cry from hearing a band playing full tilt through them. My gut reaction to them? It seems to me that they would run out of steam pretty quickly and start compressing. Not exactly the last word in dynamic range.

2. Passive speakers: The speakers we've been renting are Yorkvilles - the old Elite series - EX2000's to be exact. And they sound great. In smaller places, they really need careful EQing to keep the horn from being edgy and aggressive. But in most settings they sound killer and have more than enough headroom for our needs. The downside? Of course, they are no longer made. They were superceded by the Unity series and the even higher end TX series. I know we could hunt down used ones, but we'd really like to buy new. Haven't really auditioned anything in this area, so any advice would be welcomed. I've heard that the Unity series sounds great, but I've had no real world experience with them.

Budget? Well, we're a working band - albeit part time. So we aren't rich by any means. We already have mics, a board, and power of course. So we just need the speaker of our dreams - or at least as close as we can get for the money. The powered speakers are appealing price wise - about a grand per side. But the Yorkville U215 is doable for us at about $1500 per side. Much more than that will really stretch our budget.

Thoughts?

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Gary A. Perrett

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2011, 03:27:06 pm »

So, no subs just tops?

Powered speakers are nice in that you don't need separate amp racks and such...but there are limitations.

Generally the speakers that are in your budget are typically 1" exit horns and as you say run out of gas...

I also have Yorkville Elite speakers, and have heard the Unity speakers and they do sound good, although a bit light on bass reproduction for my taste especially noticeable with no subs.

I think if your looking for bang for the buck you might want to check into the DAS Reference series RF1264 and RF1294 (60 degree and 90 degree horizontal pattern respectively) They can be had for well under $1000 each, have 2" exit horns, and a 4" voice coil 12" speaker. They sound good, have high output capability, array well (in the 60 degree horizontal pattern) if you want to deploy 2 per side...but for my work with bands such as yours would need subs to really realize full potential.

It is generally understood here that a 2 way box with a woofer and a single horn, that 15" woofers and up do not sound as musical, especially with vocals, as a 8",10" or 12" woofer... 15" woofers beam in the higher mids so it's been my experience that smaller woofers and subs are the way to go.

I also have a good, small footprint DIY sub that I can recommend that also doesn't break the budget, and makes for a pretty killer little system.

but that's my recommendation...I know there are a lot of ways to go, and one other benefit is I have recommended these to others that have them and are very satisfied... and also use SMAART, and so they can provide some excellent starting points, base tuning wise.
G
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Don Capps

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2011, 05:23:07 pm »

Thanks for the input Gary. Never really looked into the DAS line of speakers.

No one else have any thoughts here? I thought by now, I'd be flooded with opinions. Is it my breath?  :-\

We're looking pretty hard at the Unity U15. Right smack in the middle of our budget, and we can always add subs later as needed. Anyone had any experience with those?
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Duncan McLennan

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 08:26:28 pm »

You haven't given any specifics about the size of the crowds you're trying to cover, how loud you want it to be, how much space you have to store, or whether or not you want subs.

The Mackie HD, QSC KW and JBL PRX cover an awful lot of ground. Yamaha also has a new line called DSR that is similar.  If you think the top boxes won't get loud enough, consider adding subs to gain some headroom across the board.

If the biggest and loudest top boxes from those lines (or the Yorkville powered) aren't loud enough for your gigs, then you probably need to step up to a different league of speaker, and likely a different league of budget.
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Charlie Zureki

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2011, 08:36:10 pm »

  Hello,

  While you may have problems with your breath....   I will say that your circumstances are neither unique, nor unknown to this Forum.   The questions you have posed, have been asked dozens of times. (does the "search" function still work?)

   There are probably hundreds of boxes from different Manufacturers for you to choose from. Each Speaker box will offer slightly different attributes/deficits. But, besides the pricing, coverage, and output.... you may also want to consider the availability, weight, ease of repairs, availability of replacement drivers. etc...

   You did not state where you're located..  which may be a really big determinate....when it comes to replacement parts...or even the original purchase.  Also, you may want to consider purchasing a pair of slightly used speakers, which could net you a better product for a more affordable cost.

   Since you are a "R&B" group, I would also suggest that you purchase some subs....It's not R&B without them...it's just B.  Speakers on sticks alone, will neither do your music justice, nor advance your musical cause.

   Buy speaker products with some heft, they can be re-tasked if and when you gain bigger audiences. Buy a well known brand name.

   Some things to consider...

   Hammer

   
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 12:38:16 pm by Mac Kerr »
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Rob Spence

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2011, 12:18:54 am »

The QSC KW 15" speakers may work for you. Put em up over a couple of KW subs.
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Lev Raber

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 11:22:16 am »

Don.
I have several bands, like yours - I mean the same market, working with me as sound provider. Some of them tried to go in your direction: invest in their own sound system and a such. As a result I've lost some of my accounts, but after a while they all have come back to me. Now, let me point (again, it was discussed many times) why:

1. There is no "one system fits all" solution in this business
2. The everage "wedding band" system (1 top, 1 sub per side, minimum 2-4 wedges on 1-3 mixes, all the power amps, mics, stands, wiring, mixing board, outboard, etc) will not fit inside regular car
3. There is no place in your appartment on the 5th floor for equipment storage
4. As a general rule, musicians in the band have no time or skills to operate even semi professional sound system or trouble-shoot a simple problem
5. And on, and on

I can go with this list forever with lots of other reasons, but let me talk the truth: if musicians have no money to pay for an engineer or a decent sound system they never will untill they'll come to understand one thing - it's hurting their business and future prospective to grow, you simply can't go around it.
I'm working with pros, semi pros, amateurs and at some point they all realised - it's better for them to stick with my services than do sound themselves. Find a sound guy with equipment and a van in your neighbourhood, negotiate the price, let him grow in equipment and compensation as you grow in business and you'll be all right. Just a thought.


« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 12:37:39 pm by Mac Kerr »
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Bob Kenton

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2011, 12:12:05 pm »

The U15's really need subs esp with a rock band.
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Don Capps

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 02:41:06 pm »

Don. I have several bands, like yours - I mean the same market, working with me as sound provider. Some of them tried to go in your direction...[snip]...I'm working with pros, semi pros, amateurs and at some point they all realised (sic) - it's better for them to stick with my services than do sound themselves.


Two things.

1. I have a pro sound background. Not that I've ever run touring sound for first tier acts. But I have run FOH for several mid card acts and used to be for hire on the local scene, which kept me busier than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. That said...

2. I definitely hear you. There is simply no effective way to mix sound from behind the speakers. Believe me, I have agonized over this. I would LOVE to pay a sound man as a "sixth band member". No one understands the importance of a sound man more than I do. But it really comes down to economics. Everyone in the band is eyeballing the bottom line. I also hear ya that in the long run, it could hurt business. But we're in a mid sized city, so the competition is fierce. And there are SO many bands in our area who do very well business wise who run their own sound, that it's hard for me to sustain that argument.

We're at that difficult place, ya know? Not big enough to afford any luxuries. But busy enough that we really need a quality sound system.
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Don Capps

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2011, 02:43:03 pm »

While you may have problems with your breath....   I will say that your circumstances are neither unique, nor unknown to this Forum.   The questions you have posed, have been asked dozens of times. (does the "search" function still work?)

I'm sure it does. Thanks for your input. I'll bear that in mind next time I'm tempted to ask a question.
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Scott Bolt

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2011, 11:43:26 am »

I'm sure it does. Thanks for your input. I'll bear that in mind next time I'm tempted to ask a question.
I would vote for a pair of 1x12" over subs (all powered).

The JBL PRX line is fairly inexpensive, and is quite potent.  It is also pretty light and easy to setup.

I have heard issues with Mackie's with respect to reliability.  The QSC's react poorly when driven hard.  I have not heard the Yamaha DSRs or the new EV ELX's.

Good luck!
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Tim Talbot

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2011, 03:29:25 pm »

I would vote for a pair of 1x12" over subs (all powered).

The JBL PRX line is fairly inexpensive, and is quite potent.  It is also pretty light and easy to setup.

I have heard issues with Mackie's with respect to reliability.  The QSC's react poorly when driven hard.  I have not heard the Yamaha DSRs or the new EV ELX's.

Good luck!

+1 I've owned the Mackie SWA1501 / 1801 and we have had a number of units fail on us... utter crap unlike the SRM kit which we just cant seem to break .........

The PRX kit is lovely for sure but the RFC active subs do take some stick and are lighter and smaller.

chuck clark

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2011, 06:32:19 pm »

Ya, this has been beat to death a couple times hasn't it? The boiled down synopsis:
SRX  JBL
QRX  EV
TXD  Turbo (or other brands of comparable spec)
 
Why? Big enough voice coils to punch in bigger rooms yet not to big or heavy to carry in a minivan for smaller gigs. Add subs and they can do a surprisingly decent job even in a big room.
Happy sailing!  Chuck
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Scott Bolt

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2011, 06:35:48 pm »

+1 I've owned the Mackie SWA1501 / 1801 and we have had a number of units fail on us... utter crap unlike the SRM kit which we just cant seem to break .........

The PRX kit is lovely for sure but the RFC active subs do take some stick and are lighter and smaller.

RCF powered speakers have a good rep with several people I have spoken to that have them.  They do tend to be a bit more expensive vs say JBL, EV, Yamaha, QSC, in the same class.

Reguardless of which system you pick, a 1x12" over subs all powered is a very decent and powerful system these days.  I think that for the majority of weekend warriors, these systems provide the absolute best performance for the dollar that you can get as well as being the most affordable MI option.
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Scott Bolt

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2011, 07:03:41 pm »

Ya, this has been beat to death a couple times hasn't it? The boiled down synopsis:
SRX  JBL
QRX  EV
TXD  Turbo (or other brands of comparable spec)
 
Why? Big enough voice coils to punch in bigger rooms yet not to big or heavy to carry in a minivan for smaller gigs. Add subs and they can do a surprisingly decent job even in a big room.
Happy sailing!  Chuck
The SRX JBL's are not powered, but they as well as the other speakers you mentioned are a step up (IMHO) from the powered speakers as follows:

JBL PRX
Yamaha DSR
QSC KW
EV ELX

If you have the money and don't mind the additional setup, a good digital crossover, a few good amps, and some SRX tops and subs will cover a decently large venue (3-500) and sound very good doing it.

This setup will cost quite a bit more and would require quite a bit more carrying and setting up.

Since I am just a weekend warrior (and not every weekend at that), I am thinking of going all powered to simplify my setup and lower the amount of carrying the band has to do.

If this was something I did for real money, I would go SRX.
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Rob Spence

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2011, 12:04:09 am »

I use a pair of QSC K12s with a pair of KW181 subs.
I first used them with the K12s on poles (the K&M adjustable ones are nice) over the subs but the power alley made for very uneven bass in the room and particularly on the dance floor.
Last couple of times I stacked the 2 subs on one side with a K12 on a pole over and just put the 2nd K12 on a speaker stand. Worked great and pounded good.
One thing to check when you use them though... I found (the hard way) that handling the subs can switch the polarity switch on the back and with one switched they don't perform well :-) So, always check the switches before the show!
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Jay Barracato

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Re: Speaker Advice Needed
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2011, 06:36:43 am »

I use a pair of QSC K12s with a pair of KW181 subs.
I first used them with the K12s on poles (the K&M adjustable ones are nice) over the subs but the power alley made for very uneven bass in the room and particularly on the dance floor.
Last couple of times I stacked the 2 subs on one side with a K12 on a pole over and just put the 2nd K12 on a speaker stand. Worked great and pounded good.
One thing to check when you use them though... I found (the hard way) that handling the subs can switch the polarity switch on the back and with one switched they don't perform well :-) So, always check the switches before the show!

I frequently do the exact same thing with K10's and the older HPR 181's. I can even increase the down tilt of the tops with balanced tilters, but the 7.5 degree built in can also be used.

I would also recommend checking all the rear panel options on both the tops and the subs. I haven't yet had a problem with polarity, but I have set them up and discovered the crossover settings were not what I expected. This was probably because i didn't remember how I used them last, rather than the settings getting changed in moving.
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