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Update me on newer speaker designs for PA use please.
Update me on newer speaker designs for PA use please.
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Old 4th May 2010, 05:05 AM   #1
Racket Scientist is offline Racket Scientist  United States
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Default Update me on newer speaker designs for PA use please.

I'm aware that there have been a number of shifts and improvements in PA systems in recent years, some of which have to do with using fancier electronics with computers to assist in adjusting EQs. The drivers have changed some too. I think I understand some, but not all of the differences between the systems of, say, 10 years ago and those today. I'm particulary confused about how the high/mid cabs are designed - it used to just be various compression drivers into different sized horns along with a 12 or 15 in a box - now there are other variations. What do I need to know to be an "educated PA dude"?
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Old 5th May 2010, 09:38 AM   #2
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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You need to know what you expect from a system. If you are delivering "spoken word" performances unaccompanied, your needs will be totally different from those of a Death Metal rock band.

WHat will be the average size house you need to fill? And average audience within it? WHat will be in your PA, just vocals or an entire band? And a rock band or a Dixieland band? Two folk singers or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Dance club or concert venue?

yes there are all kinds of DSP controlled EQ systems these days, and servo controlled subwoofers. But if you are shopping for a garage band for their first week long pay gig, that stuff is beyond you, just as buying a rally-race set-up ATV for your mom to drive to the grocer. If you are shopping for a high end system for an expensive tour, that is something else again.

Excellent sounding speaker systems have ben around for decades, from before the fancy stuff came along.

Drivers into a horn are now more complex? In some cases. But with each change, the speaker designer has some goal in mind. perhaps it is improved efficiency - loudeness per watt. perhaps it is better controlling dispersal or projection. Even the sound system I toured with 35-40 years ago had long throw and short through mid horns in the stacks. When we played for 1200 people in a room, we had a lot of area to cover.

Talk to application engineers at some speaker makers about choosing a system. Talk to sales engineers at places like Sweetwater for ssuggestions on chosing a system.

And have a budget in mind. If you plan to spend $400 on a speaker, you will get a lot less of that fancy stuff than of you budget $2400.
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Old 8th May 2010, 05:41 AM   #3
Racket Scientist is offline Racket Scientist  United States
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Thanks for the response Enzo. Right now I'm messing around with 2 bands (I'll probably be out of one of them soon) playing smallish gigs. We're currently fine with 2 boxes on sticks, amp and mixer. I've been reading some online about bigger systems with folded horn subs and fancy horn systems as preparation for when we're famous and playing big concerts!
We play mostly classic/southern rock.

I'm probably going to buy a Behringer Ultradrive as my next PA purchase and use it with what I have already for awhile. I probably won't ever need much more than that, but had mulled over the idea of building a couple of horn subs (like the Bill Fitzmaurice design possibly) at some point. I'll more likely just rent more whenever we do anything very big.

I just like to know things, and if I ever do upgrade I want to do it in an intelligent way.
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Old 8th May 2010, 08:18 AM   #4
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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I was a touring soundman in the early 1970s. Oh nothing like Jimi Hendrix or the Beatles, just touring club bands. We had graphic equalizers, and that was the extent of fancy stuff. No DSP, no automatic EQ systems, tune the room by ear. No compressors or limiters. I have to say, I got a pretty good sound from our system, and I like to think I could get the best sound possible out of any system. Every system has its limitations, and as a famous tough guy used to say, "a man's got to know his limitations." Stay within them, and you get the best it can offer, however limited.

Fancy stuff is great. Those Behringers work pretty well, even if they are light weight gear, and they don;t cost much. But you will learn more doing it yourself than relying on stuff to do it for you. Add parts to your system as you understand the need for each thing. AS your sophistication grows, then you can increase the sophistication of your sound system. I guess, learn to race dirt track before looking at NASCAR cars to buy.

REnting gear, if such is available, is a good plan. That way for a reasonable cost, you can try something out without buying it first. MAybe you find that huge subs add just that extra something you needed, and maybe you discover, that big subs do little for your BUffalo SPringfield/CSNY tribute show. Maybe it sounds ok, but geez, do we really want to haul all that around for just a tiny little improvement?

And about those big gigs. Let me suggest the following. Get famous first, THEN think about the giant sound system.
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Old 8th May 2010, 02:46 PM   #5
Nigel Goodwin is offline Nigel Goodwin  England
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I'm with Enzo, I don't see as the Ultradrive is really going to do much for you?.

I would suggest by far the biggest (and simplest) improvement would be to add subs. However, carting subs about is like hard work, and expensive to do - is it worth it?.
Nigel Goodwin
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Old 11th May 2010, 03:55 PM   #6
chris661 is offline chris661  United Kingdom
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Location: Sheffield
A man can dream.
Modern PA systems seem to be split down the middle. There's the traditional stuff, where you get a 15" woofer and a horn loaded compression driver, one per side.

Then there's the more serious stuff.
Here's something to read through. It's a little controversial, as some of the systems he talks about can sound pretty good, and some of the others he praises can sound pretty bad. Generally, though, he knows his stuff.
PA Systems
My work: www.grimshawaudio.com
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