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Title: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Mike Monte on August 26, 2019, 09:33:41 pm
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....

 


Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Tim McCulloch 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.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Bob Stone 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
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Mike Santarelli 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.


Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Matt Greiner 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.  ;)
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Tim Halligan 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
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Rob Spence 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.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Luke Geis 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!
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Scott Holtzman 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. 

Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Bob Faulkner 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.

Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Scott Olewiler on August 27, 2019, 07:52:40 am


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.

Siamese cables can make active just as fast to deploy. Still one cable run  And if power is placed  next to the Xlr connections, just as fast to plug in.

Some  people make active a lot more work than it has to be for wedges by thinking they should use their stage stringer for power. That is a lot of unnecessary work running separate power cables IMO.

Whether one is faster is more about the person's individual situation and how flexible they need their set ups to be.   

Anyone who runs the exact same setup every time can leave a lot more thing permanently connected and use special looms to save set up time.  I don't think active/passive makes much difference if you're smart about it.

One guy pulls out of a case and then connects the same 24 channel drop snake to his rack mounted mixer/stagebox every single time, the next guy leaves the Xlrs connected and just rolls the snake up and stores it in the bottom of the rack case.  Exact same set-up, one guy is just smarter about his time management.

Take the same two guys, one active and one passive rig. Doesn't matter which rig the smarter guy has, he'll deploy it faster.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Scott Slater on August 27, 2019, 08:38:46 am
We run both.  Passive subs and mains on our bigger systems, and active subs and mains on other systems.  The monitors are all active, and we run both digital and analog consoles / snakes depending on what is requested.  Most clients don't care, so we run digital for ease of setup (no outboard FX, compressor, EQ racks).
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Taylor Hall on August 27, 2019, 09:35:39 am
Depends on the gig, really. We have powered and passive versions of most everything in our inventory aside from a few larger items (double 18s, etc) and typically use a combo of both on any given event. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, so it's all about leveraging those to your advantage (and budget).
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Dave Guilford on August 27, 2019, 10:08:04 am
I bring out whichever Rick is easier to load at any given day. Inventory shuffles around and some of itís easier to get than others. That said Ė I prefer my passive system or set up t I bring out whichever rake is easier to load at any given day. Inventory shuffles around and some of itís easier to get than others. That said Ė I prefer my passive system or since itís all on wheels. 
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: John M Calhoun on August 27, 2019, 10:20:29 am
I have done both over the past 20 or so years. I just run a small rig compared to most of you out there, but I went from running passive (4) Peavey QW2s over (4) Peavey QW218s and (8 ) QW monitors. I ran in all through either a Yamaha or Allen and Heath analog console... Of course, with that, I had two quite heavy power amp racks to move as well.

Within the past 3 years, I have gone to a digital board (yes, the X32... I know, but it's what I can afford, but I hope to step up to the Midas M32 soon  :)) and all active speakers and monitors (EV ETX series).

For me, personally, the pros of the new rig. 1) the power draw from the active speakers is FAR less than the old power amps, which is good for the small venues where I work. 2) Not moving heavy amp racks and having the freed up real estate in the trailer is a big plus. 3) As for the digital board, I do like the option of saving shows, channel settings, and having things like comps, gates, etc available for every channel. 4) The ability to run sound remotely via ipad is nice too. I can go on stage and actually mix monitors for musicians while standing right there next to them without having to guess what they're asking for 50 or more feet out front.

The biggest drawback for me, though, is I grew up on analog boards and, even after 3 or 4 years using digital, I still find analog much more comfortable. I like things being at my fingertips without scrolling pages.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Dave Pluke on August 27, 2019, 10:20:45 am
I'm agnostic to analog vs digital.  They both have a place in live sound for the events we do.

Precisely.  Use the right tool for the right job.

Dave
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: scottstephens on August 27, 2019, 10:22:52 am
Mike,

Based on the answers, mine included, it seems as if passive and active can and do work together. If everything is paid for and things are making you money, keep things like they are until either your body tells you to lose the heavy stuff or until you think things are going to start letting you down.  If your clients are happy,  and you're happy,  and you are putting away a few dollars that's all that matters. 

If the analog makes you money and provides a good back up keep it. If you can make more by selling it and freeing up the space, sell it. What's the most important thing to you? Do you have a multi-year plan for getting out  someday? You need to decide what and when and how.  A few years ago I looked at where I was at and what I was doing, and where I wanted to be.  I unloaded all of my big stuff and invested in more wireless units. Because for me, school plays and small corporate things are where the money and sustainable gigs are. My bottom line is happy and my body is happy.

Scott
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Taylor Hall on August 27, 2019, 10:23:34 am
Precisely.  Use the right tool for the right job.

Dave
x1000
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Mal Brown on August 27, 2019, 01:04:26 pm
I have a bunch of K series stuff plus 4 DSR-112.  They deploy easily and sound decent without a lot of work or requiringíspecialí skills.  Which translates into rental income...

I do small shows with some of that stuff as a one or two guy event.

My larger rig is a 3 man operation to deploy and tear out.  It comes out for shows where there is budget and a requirement for the SPL and there is suitable power for it.  My amps are all QSC at this point.  I retired the old led boxes.  The QSCís are less power hungry as well as being a more manageable load.  They do not sound quite as sweet side by side though.  My old EV P series have a sound about them.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Rory Buszka on August 27, 2019, 04:19:12 pm
Something to consider for active speakers: If your active speakers require the amplifier to provide processing and crossover, then if you have a failure of one amp in a cabinet, then that cabinet is out of commission until you get the replacement part for that specific amplifier, unless you happen to carry that exact spare part, and if you don't have a backup cabinet or amp then you have to make sacrifices. If you have a failure of a power amp (with built-in DSP since that's common nowadays) in a rack, then you can just power it down, bring up a spare amp, copy over the processor settings (if you don't just load your library of tunings for all speakers in inventory into each amp in preparation for this eventuality), and power back up, and the show keeps going. If your processing is separate then it's even easier to replace one amp with another one (though the single processor adds a single point of failure that also has to be provided for) - just re-patch and go.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Bob Stone on August 27, 2019, 04:23:42 pm
Something to consider for active speakers: If your active speakers require the amplifier to provide processing and crossover, then if you have a failure of one amp in a cabinet, then that cabinet is out of commission until you get the replacement part for that specific amplifier, unless you happen to carry that exact spare part, and if you don't have a backup cabinet or amp then you have to make sacrifices. If you have a failure of a power amp (with built-in DSP since that's common nowadays) in a rack, then you can just power it down, bring up a spare amp, copy over the processor settings (if you don't just load your library of tunings for all speakers in inventory into each amp in preparation for this eventuality), and power back up, and the show keeps going.

Conversely, with powered boxes if you lose a single box you probably still have sound out of another box rather than silence. If you lose a single amp, in a lot of smaller systems, you'd lose all your tops or all your subs or similar since in passive systems an amp usually runs multiple speakers. It's also just as easy (if not easier) to carry a spare powered box than it is to carry a spare amp and the process to swap it out is easier.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Jeff Bankston on August 27, 2019, 04:29:28 pm
All analog.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Jeff Lelko on August 27, 2019, 06:59:11 pm
Iím yet another owner/user of both, and none of my speakers are particularly new.  I have a selection of QSC HPR boxes (active) that typically see use on smaller jobs, and a Yorkville Unity system (4-6 tops over 6 subs, all passive) for use on larger jobs.  Pros and cons to each as already mentioned.

In terms of mixers, I own both a small analog board (Mackie 1402vlz3) and a higher end digital solution (A&H dLive S Class).  Both have their place as well. 

To address the original post, going digital with your mixer will give you access to many tools that you wonít find in an analog board, at least without extensive outboard gear.  Iíve benefited quite nicely from this on my jobs.  Swapping out speakers just to have the latest and greatest isnít going to benefit you any, unless this is specifically what your clients are asking for...and are willing to pay for.  Hope this helps!
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Mike Caldwell on August 27, 2019, 08:03:03 pm
Conversely, with powered boxes if you lose a single box you probably still have sound out of another box rather than silence. If you lose a single amp, in a lot of smaller systems, you'd lose all your tops or all your subs or similar since in passive systems an amp usually runs multiple speakers. It's also just as easy (if not easier) to carry a spare powered box than it is to carry a spare amp and the process to swap it out is easier.

Yes, maybe, maybe.

I carry a spare amp in a Gator rack bag, no big deal, had to use as a spare twice in the last about 20 years.
Sometimes I use to run some fill speakers, ect.

My system is 90% passive.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Caleb Dueck on August 27, 2019, 09:56:15 pm
While I can go along with digital consoles and DSP being newer and better overall than analog consoles and crossovers/EQ - I can't go along with passive speakers/subs being outdated vs self-powered.  Rather as a rough rule of thumb - self powered are sometimes better for small systems and passive/separate amps better for everything else.  How many large systems are self-powered?  Other than one brand, hardly any.  How many installed systems are self-powered? Nearly none. 

Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Scott Holtzman on August 28, 2019, 02:45:58 am
While I can go along with digital consoles and DSP being newer and better overall than analog consoles and crossovers/EQ - I can't go along with passive speakers/subs being outdated vs self-powered.  Rather as a rough rule of thumb - self powered are sometimes better for small systems and passive/separate amps better for everything else.  How many large systems are self-powered?  Other than one brand, hardly any.  How many installed systems are self-powered? Nearly none.

It depends on the processing of course.   Discrete processors that are part of a system work much better than system cobbled together.  This is coming from an old cobbler. 

Our FBT 210 line array elements are self powered.  The RCF and db Tech are too.  You already mentioned Meyer.  JBL has power modules for Vertec.  I am sure there are many other tour grade powered systems. 

Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Steve M Smith on August 28, 2019, 03:22:14 am
For my personal equipment, I have moved over to active as I was fed up with my heavy QSC amplifiers.
However, one of the companies I sometimes work for has some very light Lab Gruppen amps which I'm convinced are lighter than the flight case they are in.  In that case, separate amps makes sense - especially for the simpler cable runs for monitors.
I think that in an ideal world, I would have the same for monitors with active FOH.


Steve
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Russell Ault on August 28, 2019, 04:21:12 am
Our FBT 210 line array elements are self powered.  The RCF and db Tech are too.  You already mentioned Meyer.  JBL has power modules for Vertec.  I am sure there are many other tour grade powered systems.

L-Acoustics used to be all passive for their vertical array boxes, but I believe K1/K2 and Kara are all active. d&b and Clair are the real large-format passive champions I can think of, although I'm pretty sure even Clair goes active as the boxes get smaller (or for subwoofers).

Precisely.  Use the right tool for the right job.

Maybe I haven't been doing this for long enough, but when exactly (outside of a very specific rider) is an analogue console specifically the right tool for the job? I can't remember the last time I touched an analogue console and didn't curse under my breath for want of a sweepable HPF, proper parametric EQs, and some compressors.

-Russ
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Dave Guilford on August 28, 2019, 08:43:09 am
Something to consider for active speakers: If your active speakers require the amplifier to provide processing and crossover, then if you have a failure of one amp in a cabinet, then that cabinet is out of commission until you get the replacement part for that specific amplifier, unless you happen to carry that exact spare part, and if you don't have a backup cabinet or amp then you have to make sacrifices. If you have a failure of a power amp (with built-in DSP since that's common nowadays) in a rack, then you can just power it down, bring up a spare amp, copy over the processor settings (if you don't just load your library of tunings for all speakers in inventory into each amp in preparation for this eventuality), and power back up, and the show keeps going. If your processing is separate then it's even easier to replace one amp with another one (though the single processor adds a single point of failure that also has to be provided for) - just re-patch and go.

This is a weak argument that Iíve heard for years.  If you lose an amp at all (in the speaker or out) - youíre out of luck. 

Basically your argument is:
powered speaker amp died? Better have a spare.
Standalone amp died? Better have a spare.

I donít see how one is more beneficial than the other.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Bob Faulkner on August 28, 2019, 09:04:48 am
This is a weak argument that Iíve heard for years.  If you lose an amp at all (in the speaker or out) - youíre out of luck. 

Basically your argument is:
powered speaker amp died? Better have a spare.
Standalone amp died? Better have a spare.

I donít see how one is more beneficial than the other.
Having only lost two QSC amplifiers in the many years....

When a stand-alone amp dies, you use a backup amplifier (probably in the same rack) and your back in business.  The backup amplifier is only taking a 2U spot in the rack.

When a powered-speaker amplifier dies, you lose the speaker as well.  Unless you are carrying spare amplifiers specifically for that speaker (and can do a field swap of it) and/or you are carrying around powered-speakers (which can take some real-estate), you will be down a speaker.

I use powered speakers for mid/high.  I do carry around another set of powered speakers just in case...
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Steve M Smith on August 28, 2019, 09:13:26 am
Basically your argument is:
powered speaker amp died? Better have a spare.
Standalone amp died? Better have a spare.


In a larger passive system with more than one amp running the same frequency ranges, if you have an amp go out, you can connect its speakers to another amp.  e.g. run everything at 4 ohms but have 2 ohm capable amplifiers.


Steve.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Doug Johnson on August 28, 2019, 10:36:17 am
As far as mixers, I started using digital maybe 18 years ago.  I still have some small analog mixers and a powered head that get used quite a bit but, I sold off my last large format analog board and processing almost 5 years ago.  My speakers however are all passive.  I also got into class d amplifiers early on.  This work well for the level I currently operate at and are all paid for.  That said my foh is EAW;  KF,  JFx, and SB, processed with UX8800 and sounds better than better than 90% of the rigs I am competing with.   For me, I don't really see an advantage to powered speakers but I have nothing against them.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Dave Guilford on August 28, 2019, 11:58:16 am
The whole ďspare ampĒ thing is also stupid because youíre acting like the amp is the only failure that could ever happen.  Iíve had speakers fail more than Iíve had amps fail.

So if youíre packing a spare amp- you should also be packing a spare speaker.  Which is great.  But then - we should pack spare everything and this tangent is completely unnecessary.

You Will have a hard time convincing me that powered speakers are bad because ďwhat if the amp diesĒ is just as likely as what if _____ dies. 

Ps- Iím almost all passive anyways.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Rory Buszka on August 28, 2019, 01:29:56 pm
This is a weak argument that Iíve heard for years.  If you lose an amp at all (in the speaker or out) - youíre out of luck. 

Basically your argument is:
powered speaker amp died? Better have a spare.
Standalone amp died? Better have a spare.

I donít see how one is more beneficial than the other.

It's only weak if you can easily spare the budget to keep an extra (or multiple extras, if you're a working shop that's doing lots of shows or renting lots of gear) of every amplifier in your powered boxes in stock. The key is that the spare amp you shove in the rack (if it's not already there waiting) is flexible enough to drive whatever speaker you need it to, in a pinch, while a spare amp for an active speaker is tuned to that specific speaker and you can't just load another preset to make it do something else - it has to be the right one, or else your box is out of commission until you get the right one. It's anecdotal evidence, yes, but I've heard more stories about amps in powered boxes failing and leaving a speaker out of commission than I've heard of rack amps failing, so you also set yourself up for success that way even if you don't carry spare amps.

Maybe keep a spare diaphragm for your most critical compression drivers too. It tends to be the compression driver that takes it hardest when a speaker is abused. Later you can open the speaker back up and re-center the diaphragm for best performance, but a spare diaphragm can restore your sound-making ability from that speaker. Or keep a cheap compression driver in each of your popular sizes, to be used in a pinch if one of the good ones gets toasted. In my younger years I remember being at a show (where the system was a pile of proprietary black boxes) and wandering into a room where some extra equipment was being kept by the sound provider, and seeing a few boxes of replacement Peavey Black Widow baskets laying around. So they also thought spares were important, or else they had made use of them already.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Bob Stone on August 28, 2019, 02:25:46 pm
It's only weak if you can easily spare the budget to keep an extra (or multiple extras, if you're a working shop that's doing lots of shows or renting lots of gear) of every amplifier in your powered boxes in stock. The key is that the spare amp you shove in the rack (if it's not already there waiting) is flexible enough to drive whatever speaker you need it to, in a pinch, while a spare amp for an active speaker is tuned to that specific speaker and you can't just load another preset to make it do something else - it has to be the right one, or else your box is out of commission until you get the right one. It's anecdotal evidence, yes, but I've heard more stories about amps in powered boxes failing and leaving a speaker out of commission than I've heard of rack amps failing, so you also set yourself up for success that way even if you don't carry spare amps.

Maybe keep a spare diaphragm for your most critical compression drivers too. It tends to be the compression driver that takes it hardest when a speaker is abused. Later you can open the speaker back up and re-center the diaphragm for best performance, but a spare diaphragm can restore your sound-making ability from that speaker. Or keep a cheap compression driver in each of your popular sizes, to be used in a pinch if one of the good ones gets toasted. In my younger years I remember being at a show (where the system was a pile of proprietary black boxes) and wandering into a room where some extra equipment was being kept by the sound provider, and seeing a few boxes of replacement Peavey Black Widow baskets laying around. So they also thought spares were important, or else they had made use of them already.

Seriously? Nobody is keeping spare individual components to rebuild a speaker or amp in the field short of maybe a big name touring company. You swap the entire unit. Having an entire spare powered box is just as good (actually better IMO) than having just a spare amp, whether the amp, diaphragm, the cabinet gets dropped and splits open, a jack breaks, whatever the case...you can just swap the whole box and get on with the show. Nobody has time to open up a cabinet or rebuild a rack or fiddle with tiny components and do some soldering in the field.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Mike Caldwell on August 29, 2019, 08:15:20 am
As for spares....I always carry as spare mixer in some form, spare system DSP along with an analog crossover, spare power amp and buried in the bottom of my work trunk is a spare diaphragm for my main speakers.
The amp is a rack bag, and the spare DSP and analog crossover are in a small two space rack.

As for failures it seems we hear more about powered speaker issues than power amp issues, or do people just talk about them more.
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Bob Stone on August 29, 2019, 09:24:05 am
As for spares....I always carry as spare mixer in some form, spare system DSP along with an analog crossover, spare power amp and buried in the bottom of my work trunk is a spare diaphragm for my main speakers.
The amp is a rack bag, and the spare DSP and analog crossover are in a small two space rack.

As for failures it seems we hear more about powered speaker issues than power amp issues, or do people just talk about them more.

Or are there just more powered speakers out there getting used by less experienced operators?
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Chris Grimshaw on August 29, 2019, 12:44:56 pm
I'm someone that uses passive speakers and amp racks. I learned everything on analogue equipment*, but my mixing desk is digital now. While I could have a compressor on every channel if I wanted, most of the time I might only use a few - I think the midset of "I only have 4x comps, better use them wisely" has remained.

I use passive speakers because I can build things that are better than the cabinets I can afford.


* MixWizards and an A&H ML4000, with racks of Drawmer compressors and gates, plus a few GEQs.

Chris
Title: Re: Anyone still using power amps with passive speakers, analog mixers....
Post by: Randy Pence on August 29, 2019, 04:29:04 pm
i prefer passive speakers and digital mixers.

Siamese cables might speed up getting active speakers powered, but still complicate power delivery unless you have enough built into wherever the xlrs are coming from. I'd rather have amps and the power to feed them under or off-stage. For Lounge level gigs, the area  around stage boxes gets congested enough. Active speakers still need system integration, too.

I always got lost in the matrix of knobs of analog mixers and hated patching outboard. it is much faster for me to select a digital channel and play with its knobs than visually confirm which analog channel knob I'm about to turn