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Tech: Powered PA Speakers?

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Willie-O 12 Aug 09 - 04:22 PM
Richard Bridge 12 Aug 09 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 12 Aug 09 - 04:39 PM
Joe Offer 12 Aug 09 - 05:06 PM
Mark Ross 12 Aug 09 - 05:51 PM
GUEST,Razorlike 12 Aug 09 - 06:00 PM
Stewart 12 Aug 09 - 06:04 PM
autoharper 12 Aug 09 - 06:10 PM
Willie-O 12 Aug 09 - 06:48 PM
Bernard 12 Aug 09 - 07:54 PM
Seamus Kennedy 12 Aug 09 - 09:00 PM
Richard Bridge 12 Aug 09 - 10:11 PM
Mark Ross 13 Aug 09 - 12:12 AM
treewind 13 Aug 09 - 02:56 AM
Bernard 13 Aug 09 - 05:05 AM
mattkeen 13 Aug 09 - 05:12 AM
Richard Bridge 13 Aug 09 - 05:25 AM
Willie-O 13 Aug 09 - 09:32 AM
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Subject: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Willie-O
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 04:22 PM

I'm shopping for speakers suitable for stand-mounting, to use as mains in small-to-medium size venues.

If you go to any sound equipment store now, at least half of their stock is in "powered speakers", which don't need an amp because they have one built in that is perfectly matched to the speakers etc etc. OF course they cost 50% more than equivalent unpowered speakers, and the other obvious disadvantage is that you would have to find 2 more power hookups for a typical setup...but there must be some reason they are apparently popular--and I see that some mudcatters like them. I was interested to note in this thread that many of the same brand products are in the UK, US and Canada--not always true when we discuss instruments.

So who's used powered speakers for acoustic-oriented sound reinforcement? (oxymoron, I know). I don't know if I want to jump on the bandwagon just because all the stores are pushing them...who's tried em? Good or bad? Are there any issues with hum (or excessive power draw) from all the extra power cables running around?

I have a powered mixer right now, but I'm thinking of replacing it too...another set of issues.

Thanks
Bill
(cross-posting with Maplepost)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 04:24 PM

In my opinion the Mackies sound crap. A very harsh high midrange.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 04:39 PM

When I was shopping for my current rig I liked the sound of the Yamaha powered speakers well enough. But in the end the deciding factor was, why take the heaviest single component of the kit and add the weight of a power amp and mixer to it? Lazy I guess (although I am very pleased with the sound of what I purchased).
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 05:06 PM

Gee. it looks like I'd better split the crosslinks today. Sorry they're so long. I'll get to them when I have time.

I really like powered speakers. They're versatile, and quick and easy to set up. I don't like the three-legged pole stands that are often used for powered speakers - they're often very top-heavy.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 05:51 PM

The JBL Eon 12" are very good. In fact I just use one with a Behringer mixer(about the size of a large paperback. Just 2 mics. The stands and the speaker stand fit in a golf bag cover(2 bucks at a yard sale). The speaker & mic cords, power strip, extension chords, and mics go into a computer bag. Both the speaker and the gear bag fit in a rolling soft zipper suitcase. Very portable, easy to set up (15 minutes at most).

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: GUEST,Razorlike
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 06:00 PM

Mackies all the way for me. I got a 3k powered speaker rig of theirs which is awesome then also a small pair I use as monitors or if I'm doing a small gig, handle a hell of a wide range of sound very very well.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Stewart
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 06:04 PM

I use JBL Eon10s (picked up at half price on Craig's List). They're fine for small to med size venues, even outdoors, and they're relatively light weight, easier to carry than the larger ones. Add a simple inexpensive mixer and a couple of stands and you're in business. The alternative with unpowered speakers requires a power amp in addition to the mixing board. And with only one mic the JBL Eon10 has a built in mic preamp so you can use it as a stand-alone system.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: autoharper
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 06:10 PM

I perform with JBL EON 10" powered speakers and think they sound better than anything else I have tried (for voice, acoustic guitar, and autoharp). Additionally, they are practically indestructible and weigh a mere 23 lbs. I used to use the JBL EON 12", but found it was overkill, even for outdoor concerts.
-Adam Miller


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Willie-O
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 06:48 PM

Thanks folks, keep em coming.

Joe, I don't like 3-legged stands either, but they have physics going for them (I don't know how they could be "top-heavy" though; I guess you mean with the speaker on top). Good ones are stable but they all take up room.

I have a Behringer 9-channel powered mixer--bought for the band, but I don't like it--another story. It's fine for solo or duo gigs though. I[ want to replace it with a similiar mixer that has THE SAME OUTPUT LEVELS RIGHT ACROSS THE BOARD, like the Yamaha EMX I"m used to.

W-
O


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Bernard
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 07:54 PM

I've never understood why powered speakers were conceived in the first place... each one needs two cables instead of one (power and signal), and if the amp goes down in one you've effectively lost the speaker. At least if one side of your PA amp goes down you can double up the speakers on the side that works.

Add to that the fact that they are heavier than passive speakers...

My 'day job' is PA hire, by the way, so I probably see more of the stuff in one day than most people see in a month!

We have a few powered speakers in hire, but they are mostly re-chargeable battery ones with a built in radio receiver. Very handy for a quick opening ceremony, etc., as there are no wires! We have the Fohhn and Chaiyo models.

We also have some Fostex SPA11 powered speakers, but they seem to sit on the shelf indefinitely...

When we invested in a JBL line array system a couple or so years ago, we had the option of built-in amps, but chose the separate Crown IT4000 amps - which have not been all that reliable. Out of eight amplifiers, four have been back for repairs under warranty. In each case it was a networking card causing the trouble, not the amplifier itself.

JBL Eons are good, but I'd still opt for the passive ones.

My own rig is a pair of Bose 802 II and an Inter-M PA1220 mixer amplifier... it has been used by the likes of Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson, Vin Garbutt, Bob Fox, Kerfuffle, Chris While and Julie Matthews... to name but a few!

Behringer... avoid the powered mixers like the plague, as they cannot be economically repaired when they break down, which they always do! Using a Behringer mixer with some other make of amp is usually okay.

An excellent mixer amplifier that isn't too heavy is the Allen and Heath PA12-CP. We have had a couple in our hire stock since they were first introduced, and have had no bother whatsoever with them. Admittedly the were British made, and now they're made in China...

They boast a handy little switch to 'change' the output impedance from 4 to 8 ohms, so you are getting the full 500w per side into your speakers whether they be 4 or 8 ohm. It's kiddology, of course... the rating is 500w at 8 ohms, and the switch merely brings in a limiter when set in the '4 ohm' position! Otherwise the thing would be trying to pump around 800 watts into a four ohm load!

Okay, someone is going to quote Ohms Law at me and suggest it's really 1000w... except there are other forces at play with an amplifier's output...

Getting off my box and going to bed, now!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 09:00 PM

Willie - check this out:
Fishman-Pro-Amp-SL1-Solo-Performance-Portable-PA-System

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Aug 09 - 10:11 PM

I think the powered speaker combo was invented because (1) lots of rock and rollers had no idea what an ohm was, much less Ohm's law, and so either got reduced power output or melted output transistors and (2) speaker cables carrying high power are expensive, lossy, and vulnerable.

I'd still agree, however, a box of power amps on stage with an active crossover, and send signal from the desk is the best way to go.

I'm surprised that Crowns are now unreliable - once upon a time the mighty DC300A was the be-all and end-all of trannie power amps.

But this is about speakers.

I met a bloke the other day and he had some that were shedloads better than Mackies - and he'd got them cheap - but I can't remember what they were. It may come to me...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 12:12 AM

Adam Miller(autoharper)was the one who turned me on to the JBLs, so I guess I'm using the 10 not the 12. I still swear by it.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: treewind
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 02:56 AM

The thing to do with the cabling is strap power and signal leads together, with some woven cable sleeving, spiral wrap or tie-wraps. They are always going to the same place each end and won't ever have to be separated.

For live sound I'm surprised that powered speakers are so popular but they do solve a number of problems

  • for the purchaser, deciding how to match power ratings between amp and speaker
  • usually they have separate power amps for tweeter and bass unit and an active crossover - better crossover response
  • Overload protection can simulate the thermal response of driver so it operates reliably but only when needed

I've noticed that for studio monitoring speakers (lower power, very flat and smooth response) active speakers have almost completely replaced passives - it's hard to buy passives any more.

My own PA rig uses EV SX300 passives and a TA1400 amplifier (Thomann, cheap, hasn't broken yet!) The EV's are lovely speakers. There is an active version SXA360. I say get them if you can afford them!

I've read horror stories of JBL EONs dying when driven hard.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Bernard
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 05:05 AM

Richard, the Crown amps are reliable, it's just the IT side of things that's a bit flaky. If one fails you can still use it as a straight analogue amp, but at 3 grand a chuck that's hardly the point, I reckon!

As for the good old DC300A, we've got four of those about to go up for auction on eBay (local collection only). Terrific amps, the first 'official' 1k amp, which can drive into a short circuit without any harm, as they were originally developed to operate doors on a submarine!! They deliver 500w per channel into 2 ohms, 300w into 4 ohms (hence the name).

They had an unfortunate habit of falling apart if used for touring, but I did some mods to ours many years ago to make them more rugged. I also added a couple of neon indicators on the front panel, one to show 'mains on' and the other to show the mains fuse had failed - very simple, put the neon across the fuse and it lights when the fuse blows, but it won't carry any current. Hence neons, not LEDs!

I think one is faulty (gone DC), so will have to check it out, but I'll be starting the bidding at 25 quid... if anyone's interested I can PM you when they're up, or make an offer and bypass eBay!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: mattkeen
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 05:12 AM

The Ev's that treewind uses are some of the best small(ish) speakers I have heard.

I dont like the Mackies of recent years and I must admit I dont really like the JBL's either - they sound hard to me.


For all round everything (sound and convenience) the active EV's get my vote - but beings as I rarely use a PA I own a small Yamaha set up which is actually ok.

For small gigs but where a little amplification is needed I quite like to use the Yamaha's on the floor angled up in floor monitor stylee, as this makes the sound less direct and seems to offer an ambient natural quality to the sound.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 05:25 AM

Bernard, where are you based? Shipping a DC300A is going to be a bad idea - they weigh about 50kg each, as I recall! I did not know they were 2 Ohm stable. Can one bridge them to provide 1k into 4? I should not really buy any more amps, but I am currently using an Audiohead (cheap, Chinese, and very heavy) and it is not supposed to be run into 4 bridged, but is rated at 3k into 8 bridged, and running it bridged into a pair of Kilomax 18s in parallel gives me 4, and a tendency to knock even the bulletproof kilomaxes off their endstops.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Powered PA Speakers?
From: Willie-O
Date: 13 Aug 09 - 09:32 AM

Ah crap, I wrote a long reply to some of the valuable offerings you have made, then lost it in "post" somehow. In short: thanks Bernard for the other-side-of-the-rental-desk viewpoint, and thanks for the Fishman link, Seamus. I've seen that rig in action and it's very good.

So far of the stuff I tried in-store, I am actually most impressed by the EV Force, nominally a monitor, but they just sound and feel right as light-weight mains. $300 Cdn each.

I will most likely be purchasing a traditional set of 2 -speakers-on-stands since at least half the time I am doing sound for someone else--small touring combos mostly--and that's what they expect.

Thanks everyone, keep the insights and model suggestions coming.
W-O


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