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Old 15th January 2012, 01:53 PM   #1
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Default Multichannel system: what's best for speakers and amps?

I'm putting together a surround speaker set for small surround sound concerts. These will run either from multichannel files on a laptop, or, with some clever mixer configuration, from a stereo source. If it helps, my inspiration for this is the acousmonium model.

What I've usually seen with gigging surround systems is Genelec studio monitors, which certainly have the sound quality, but no way can I afford eight of them!

My sound starts from a MOTU Traveller sound card, and the minimum I want to have is eight identical channels (octophonic). I have started out with Samson 170 servo amps and JBL control 1s, though have not built up a full complement for the eight channels. My reasoning being that the JBLs are sufficient to do ambient music in pubs and cafés, and eight of them in a circle might be loud enough. They are definitely cheap enough.

Question One: Obviously, if one continues on the JBL route, some kind of sub-bass channel will be needed, but I would like to know if anyone has recommendations for home build cabs which will give full range, stuck on a speaker tripod and handle the output from the Samsons (75W/chan into 4ohms and commensurately less into 8ohms (37.5W?) - I believe the Samsons can be bridged, though, for compactness, I'd prefer not to). I would be interested in using PA grade speakers, if they were cheap enough. The per channel cost of using JBLs is about £25, so in the first instance, that would be my target price.

Regards, Chris.
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Old 15th January 2012, 02:27 PM   #2
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I did a lot of this in France back in the 80s, up to 24 channels. Also used a lot of JBL Control 1. But you are correct that you need other stuff. Depending on budget, we used whatever we could get our hands on. JBL, Bose, Turbo, whatever.

Of course that was more to create sound than to reproduce it. With a lot of different speakers you can change the sound a lot depending on where you send it.

In my experience, once you get to about 8 channels, use whatever you can find that will fill the venue. Something subjective starts to happen up around 8X in which the quality of each speaker becomes much less important. I hope that helps you a little.
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Old 15th January 2012, 02:39 PM   #3
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Hi Pano,

Thans for the insight, your talking about exactly the situation. I learnt about spatialisation with the Musique et Recherche acousmonium in Brussels, which is an interesting menagerie of speakers (44 channels give or take), to say the least. The sound is fantastic though.

Regards, Chris.
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Old 15th January 2012, 02:45 PM   #4
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You're welcome. Please keep us up to date on what you're doing. I love the multichannel stuff, even tho I haven't done it in years. Looking forward to seeing what you do with it.
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Old 15th January 2012, 08:51 PM   #5
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My first objective is to get a whole rig set up to see what it sounds like. In between here and there, I'll have to run up some JBL to top-hat adaptors, and get a bunch of cables. I look forward to reporting back.
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Old 17th January 2012, 06:42 AM   #6
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Hi Chris, just a quick FYI...

I'm using a Servo 240 in my stereo and also as a bass amplifier. It's rated for 120w/ch into 4ohm, but has the voltage swing (read: upclipped output so long as the power supply doesn't sag) to do 300w per channel, and just over 150w/ch into 8ohm (I suspect the power supply would cope with that).

Before writing it off as not enough power, I recommend you take a look inside, measure some voltages and look up what the output devices are - I was pleasantly surprised with mine.

Chris
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Old 23rd July 2012, 07:10 AM   #7
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Oops, I missed your post there chris661 - thanks for the tip! I've been off-line as my 'studio/workshop' has been cleared out for a roof rebuild, so I'm just now picking up the pieces again.

To anyone reading this; I'd appreciate advice or thoughts on teaming up a sub-bass unit with the multiple JBL studio 1/Samson 170 combination. If we assume that each channel is handling about 40 watts, and there are eight channels (could go to 16) then what should I be considering for a sub-bass unit? I've looked on ebay, and nothing is obvious. There's loads of in car entertainment sub-bass woofers, at approachable prices, and I'm able to make up a cabinet.

Also, any recommendations for sourcing a mobile 19" rack unit to take four Samson Servo 170s (quite heavy units) plus sound card, and processing racks. I'm looking for the fabric covered type with castors.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 09:31 AM   #8
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For rack mount units, buying second hand is the way to go - they're expensive new.

WRT the subwoofer...
how low should it go?
how loud?
how much power can you feed in?
how big can it be?

I'd avoid the car audio stuff for anything other than car use. Its rare to find a car audio driver that'll perform well without cabin gain.
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