Active Loud Compact 3-Way for Musicians and Performers

Hello fellow members. Starting with design/part choices for a new project.

Want to build an active DPS crossed-over active speaker system for performing musicians/ artists (particularly keyboardist and the one-man-band variety) with the following design objectives: -
1. Monitoring level sound quality (resolution, imaging and accuracy) for enabling critical practice sessions and recording.
2. Enjoyable listening experience for casual playing. Should be entertaining with smooth highs and punchy bass sans any overhang or booming.
3. Very compact size to be able to fit in modest rooms and practice venues.
4. Easy to transport and fast to setup. All components should be light and small to go in the boot of a car, and should be quick to connect up.
5. High output, to be able to perform live (multi-genre music) and do PA duties for small gatherings.

I am on the following choices so far: -

1. Design:
a. An active 3-day design (2 satellites + 1 subwoofer) with DSP crossovers and response correction.
b. All sealed enclosures. Need to avoid bass overhang at all costs.
c. MTM configuration for satellites.
d. Class-D amplification for efficiency, with dedicated enclosure for all amps and DSP.

2. Drivers:
a. Tweeter (1+1): Morel CAT 378 1-1/8" Soft Dome Horn. Very high output with soft dome sweetness. On the lookout for a compression driver which can be sweet and monitor level sounding...
b. Mid-Bass (2+2): Beyma 5P200nd 5" Neodium. High output in small size/ volume and good sound quality (though, very few reviews around to validate that).
c. Subwoofer (1 or 1+1): Eminence LAB12C 12". High power and can hit low in a small sealed box.

3. Electronics:
a. DBX DriveRack PA2 loudspeaker management system. AFS is an added advantage.
b. Custom-built amplifier with Hypex OEM modules.
 
First - how loud do you need?
I would say for live with a drumset 1x15" reflex is the minimum what makes sense. LAB12 is a great driver but I would use at least 2-4 in a closed volume.
You can use a modern 15" in 60-80L volume what gives an very good SPL/volume ratio.

Sattelites - why no classic 8"/1" design? I just did something similar with highest sound quality in mind for home cinema. A 8"/1" with closed volume will not take a lot more volume as your 5"/1"/5" but will be more robust and more controlled.
This Morel tweeter ... sorry but that's not PA. There are a few compression drivers without resonances in the audible range and which sound very linear and "sweet" - I went with B&C DE360. Get a good horn and you get controlled directivity which you will need in your small locations.
Combined with only one midrange driver and digital delay you can make a very stable crossover and even directivity.

Both - the 5" and a 8" with medium sensitivity in a closed back volume will need their crossover pretty high. Would say at least 150Hz, maybe even 200Hz.
There are longer Xmax 8" with sensitivity in the 92-94dBSpl range which are the ones you could possbly cross over lower (look for PHL drivers).

I would not custom build an amp for this usecase. And the DBX has so much noise compared to the Hypex ...
You could use the Hypex modules but they are not really high power modules. Have a search, there are a lot of power amps with DSP nowerdays.
For very small locations active speakers are really nice. You probably can even plug in your keyboard + microphone.
 
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I'm a musician and live sound tech and honestly other than subs, I don't bother with DIY in this space for many reasons. Cost is a big one and ease of use is an even bigger one. DIY pa subs can present a good value, but not the mains/tops. Super hard to beat prebuilt tops with built in amplification and pretuned DSP.
You'll spend more on the plate amp than the entire cost of a prebuilt top from EV, Mackie, etc...
I think you've got a lot of wishful thinking going on, applying stuff that works in the home but doesn't really work in live settings. Imaging? Unless you have the tops pointed at just you, you can forget that. There's not a lot of value in it anyways for most musicians and good players just need to be able to hear themselves mono.

Sealed for no bass overhang? Not sure what you mean but this just seems like sacrificing much needed output. With all the various issues you'd run into with placement as venues any difference in sealed vs. ported just kinda goes out the window.

That morel would die eventually in PA. That 5" woofer is just too small.

Getting stuff that is easy to setup quick and just works without tinkering is really gonna trump almost all other requirements.
 
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Building a top only makes sense when you need best quality - like a mini Genelec S360. That's what I did recently, but for home cinema.
Most mid priced modern PA speakers are pretty good and for sure good enough for such a use case.

But hey - we are still in a diyAudio place here ;)
 
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GM

Member
Joined 2003
5. High output, to be able to perform live (multi-genre music) and do PA duties for small gatherings.

FWIW/YMMV, etc.: Re live drum set: http://web.archive.org/web/20170927023142/http://www.scrounge.org/speak/burwen/

You may wonder why it takes so much power to feed such efficient speakers. I have found when reproducing a live drum set out of any one of my five horns at the original sound level, the peaks can reach within 3 to 6 db of the clipping level when the drummer is playing as loud as he can. For prerecorded music, however much less power is needed because the high peaks are clipped off during the recording process.
 
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Thank you mates for the suggestions. Please keep them coming.

First - how loud do you need?
Wish for something like the RCF TT505 & 808 :cool:. But, can settle for lesser...
Building a top only makes sense when you need best quality - like a mini Genelec S360. That's what I did recently, but for home cinema.
Most mid priced modern PA speakers are pretty good and for sure good enough for such a use case.
Also, wish for Genelec level quality :). And thats what makes the project unique!!

That morel would die eventually in PA. That 5" woofer is just too small.
Want it to play 'mid-end studio monitor level' well at low volumes, and that is why the Morel tweeter and 5inch mid-bass drivers in MTM config. The setup will predominantly see this use, and will only occasionally be used for portable PA duties.

I don't think there exists a 'ready solution' for this, creating a good space for DIY.

I am liking the following CDs: -
1. B&C DE250-8.
2. Eminence N314X.
3. B&C DE360-8.

There are a few compression drivers without resonances in the audible range and which sound very linear and "sweet" - I went with B&C DE360. Get a good horn and you get controlled directivity which you will need in your small locations.
Your suggestions have been super mate, and value them. Why the DC360? Anything better you can suggest for my use case (best sound quality at low volumes, and loudness when occasionally needed)? Also, suggestions on the horn please...
 
So that's what I built for home cinema:
20220518_103907 (FHD).jpg

DE360 is one of the rare drivers without resonances up to 20kHz - this was my design goal. The sound reminds me of a good HiFi ring radiator. After all - it IS a ring radiator, just more powerful.
The horn is a MAJOR part, probably the most important one. I always start with Limmer Horns cause i have the best experience with them. Not sure if you can buy them at your place of the world. https://www.limmerhorns.de/
The directivity of such a horn fits a bigger driver better! So the 8" is fitting in the transition zone to the horn - that's how a studio monitor is done. I would go with PHL drivers for your use case.

You could build a 2-4x 8" driver woofer stand for such a speaker. Should look very neat on a stage but maybe not stable enough cause you need high speakers for that use when people are standing. I will build something similar with 4 SB23MFCL45-8 - these are great in closed enclosures, very stable build.

Such a system will sound great and goes loud.
But just for PA ... I would buy something reliable.
 
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You can make pretty loud studio monitors like the Genelec S360. They use PHL PA drivers for top end studio monitors for ages, many main monitors built in the front wall are 2x12" or 2x15" with a compression driver on a horn. The best compression drivers sound very good and are totally useable for monitoring.
You need a lot of dynamics for big studio monitors -> high sensitivity drivers needed.

A speaker like the S360 can easily be used as keyboard monitor. Expensive keybord monitor, but it will work ;-)
 
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900 series seem really great! I thought about useing one for my rear channels but I would have needed a to high crossover frequency. So I never tested one.
The problem is you don't get a proper horn for a compression driver in that size.
You could try a Bliesma T34, maybe even in a waveguide (but that would be the T34B version). These are REALLY loud for a dome tweeter but pretty expensive.
Still - to control the off axis radiation of a tweeter down to 1,5-2kHz you need a big enough waveguide/horn - so you need 20-17cm anyway. -> horn + 8".
 
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