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Project: the best PA tops using commonly available components
Project: the best PA tops using commonly available components
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Old 5th January 2017, 05:34 AM   #1
nikmartin is offline nikmartin
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Alabama
Default Project: the best PA tops using commonly available components

Update 2-29-2018 - changed the design requirements to meet a better use case and better components & changed to a bi-amped design

Can we design a mobile 12" pa top with common parts, and maybe even use a ready to build cabinet like the knock down trap cabinets on PE, for less then an agreed on price point? $300?

My starting point is < 40 lbs, 2 way, 12" woofer. Compression HF driver with a WIDE horn of 100x40. This is an update to my original desire for super narrow+arrayable. My decision is based on my typical use which is mobile DJ where the focus is on the dance floor, and I'm usually 5' from it. This isn't an outdoor concert that's 1000 ft deep. At worst, it's in a bar that's 20 ft wide by 50 ft deep or outdoors, but my use case is still short throw with wide coverage, 100ft max. Works decent on its own, but but really made to be paired with subs, maybe a PAL12 or THAM15. Stackable horn-to-horn, 2 per side. Bi-amped, with external electronic crossover like the Behringer DCX2496. Capable of getting moderately loud. Not too hard to build in the garage. Some digging on parts Express and other sites says $250 will get you something better than all the plastic boxes selling for $599. But that's not the only goal. The other goal is that I can replace parts readily from Parts Express or Amazon. This of course means compromises, but I have lost faith in my plastic active speakers. They have and will continue to let me down I'm afraid, but a good rugged passive box with a nice shape and finish that sounds good, is easy to use and EQ, and will pound night after night.

Anyone up for a community project?

Edit:


Project goals are:
  • Portable (< 40 lbs/cabinet)
  • Readily available parts, nothing esoteric or hand built
  • Less than $300/cabinet
  • As good as, but preferably better than all but maybe the highest end plasticabs
Here's a 2nd pass at a design that uses commonly available components:

Unless specified these components are all from Parts Express.

Code:
Part #    Description                                                   Price   Quan  Ext
295-032   Dayton Audio PA310-8 12" Pro Woofer                           $66.75  1     $66.75
270-406   Dayton Audio DT250P-8 1" Polyimide Compression Horn Driver    $42.95  1     $42.95
245-324   PA Knock-Down Trapezoid Plywood Speaker Cabinet               $69.00  1     $69.00
294-2912  PRV Audio WG23-25 1" 100 x 40 Waveguide                       $5.99   1     $5.99
262-348   Penn-Elcom M1504 ABS Dish Two Neutrik D or NL4MP              $1.30   1     $1.30
262-824   Parts Express Plastic Pocket Speaker Cabinet Handle 4-Sided   $3.97   2     $7.94
092-052   Neutrik NL4MP Speakon Connector 4 Pole Panel Mount            $2.25   2     $4.50
260-773   Penn-Elcom F1633 Rubber Cabinet Foot 1.125" Dia. x 0.5" H     $0.46   4     $1.84
245-013   Penn-Elcom M1551 Steel Speaker Mounting Top Hat               $7.19   1     $7.19          

Total: $207.46
This comes in at just over $200, but still needs a grill and some Duratex

Last edited by nikmartin; 1st March 2018 at 04:45 PM. Reason: Update design with different components
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Old 5th January 2017, 02:04 PM   #2
Mike Caldwell is offline Mike Caldwell  United States
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Ohio
What is the rest of your system, amps, crossover/DSP, subs, EQ ect.
Do you the proper amps to power multiple boxes.
Cabinets with 90X40horns will not really array well, they would need to be 60X40 or even a tighter horn to really start thinking about "arraying".
When you array do you mean 2 or 3 speakers just setting in row side by side all pointing straight ahead or in a curved arc to obtain wider coverage.
Something you do with 90X40 cabinets when you need more output is to stack then up with the cabinets oriented horn to horn, you will get better cabinet to cabinet coupling.
You need to think of ways not to blow up your speakers in the first place rather than how fast you can get replacement parts, yes you do need to keep spares on hand but if your blowing stuff on a regular basis something else is wrong.
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Old 5th January 2017, 02:38 PM   #3
nikmartin is offline nikmartin
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Alabama
Here's a first cut for a $300 12" 2-way PA cabinet:

Code:
Parts Express Right Angle Steel Bar Speaker Cabinet Handle                262-820	2	$8.63	$17.26
Penn-Elcom D0604K Dish Two Neutrik D Black 3-1/2" x 5-1/8"               262-334	1	$4.77	$4.77
Neutrik NL2MP Speakon Connector 2 Pole Panel Mount                        092-059	2	$1.99	$3.98
Selenium DH200E-E 1" Titanium Horn Driver 1-3/8"-18 TPI                    264-225	1	$39.99	$39.99
Eminence Delta Pro-12A 12" Cast Frame Driver                                     290-510	1	$129.99	$129.99
Selenium HM17-25 1" Bi-Radial Horn 60x40 1-3/8"-18 TPI                    264-308	1	$5.79	$5.79
Dayton Audio XO2W-2.5K 2-Way Speaker Crossover 2,500 Hz             260-142	1	$25.80	$25.80
PA Knock-Down Trapezoid Plywood Speaker Cabinet for 12" Driver      245-324	1	$69.00	$69.00
Total: $300-ish

Last edited by nikmartin; 5th January 2017 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 5th January 2017, 02:59 PM   #4
nikmartin is offline nikmartin
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Alabama
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caldwell View Post
What is the rest of your system, amps, crossover/DSP, subs, EQ ect.
I'm planning on using a Behringer DXC2496 or DRPA

Quote:
Do you the proper amps to power multiple boxes.
Yes, going to run two behringer iNuke 3000's 1 top, 1 sub

Code:
Cabinets with 90X40horns will not really array well, they would need to be 60X40 or even a tighter horn to really start thinking about "arraying".
When you array do you mean 2 or 3 speakers just setting in row side by side all pointing straight ahead or in a curved arc to obtain wider coverage.
Something you do with 90X40  cabinets when you need more output is to stack then up with the cabinets oriented horn to horn, you will get better cabinet to cabinet coupling.
I was thinking about side by side arrays, 2 per side, then probably a max 3/side. Portable is a goal, so once I get to three per side, I'm renting or replacing with some other arrangement of stacked cabs. The system is primarily mobile.

Quote:
You need to think of ways not to blow up your speakers in the first place rather than how fast you can get replacement parts, yes you do need to keep spares on hand but if your blowing stuff on a regular basis something else is wrong.
Agreed. These are Alto TS215, which have quickly become notorious for have very poorly matched driver/amps, and they eat horns and woofers like candy, with only a few clipping led flashes per minute. I drove them into clipping because of lack of subs at an event i needed subs at. That's on me, but brought this issue forward.
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Old 8th January 2017, 06:34 AM   #5
Cuppa Joe is offline Cuppa Joe  United States
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Seattle/Tacoma
Horizontally arraying wide-coverage, 2-way boxes (even traps) will get you a boatload of comb filtering. For an arced horizontal array, the most recent success story would be the Danley Synergy horn, and even they need some processing. You might consider going with a simple 2-way vertical stack, similar to the Ramsdell systems, to get your 3 box array per side.
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Old 15th January 2017, 03:25 AM   #6
djtimmy77 is offline djtimmy77
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Join Date: Aug 2015
I also am looking at building some PAL12's and wanting to put some tops together to go along with them. Not planning to array....also considering 10" woofers...
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Old 15th January 2017, 01:59 PM   #7
turk 182 is offline turk 182  Canada
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Cuppa Joe Danley's where targeted at a different problem comb filtering between passbands and point source coherance the units where meant as stand alone boxes and some users tried to "array" them with the usual problems resulting but fear not they're on that trail now DANLEY INTRODUCES THE EXODUS SYSTEM! | Danley Sound Labs, Inc.
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Old 15th January 2017, 02:58 PM   #8
jarvissound is offline jarvissound  United States
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Default PA Tops

Hello All,

Some thoughts on what I see here:

The Dayton PA310 12" cannot be beat in the bang-for-the-buck department. Roughly equivalent performance to the Delta at 1/2 the price. Pretty smooth response as well. They make a 15" for like 12 bucks more if you want to go that route.

Ditto on the compression drivers. The DH200e are ok(I've used them) but the Daytons are similar in design to the B&C DE250, which is considered top of the line. The replacement diaphragms are super cheap if you smoke one.

The Behringer iNuke3000 is nowhere near strong enough to power these tops or any sub you are likely to use with them. The 6000 is more like it.

2.5k is a very high crossover for this setup, and the units you have selected don't have any padding for the CD, which you will need.

At the end of the day there is only so much you are going to get out of a set of 12" 2-ways, even with some compact subs. If you are blowing drivers in your current setup you might need something a little stronger.

In my experience the *cheapest* way to address this sort of problem is to buy a big honking amp and a pile of cheap *passive* 15" 2-way boxes, then you have a scaleable system for different sized gigs.

Regarding combing--frankly for this application I personally wouldn't worry about it. Some of the best PA systems I've ever heard (back in the day) were technically comb-filtering nightmares. Everyone is in a tizzy about it these days, and while it is an issue to consider, some of these other issues are more important when you're trying to keep the dance floor thumping IMHO.

Brett
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Old 16th January 2017, 07:19 AM   #9
Cuppa Joe is offline Cuppa Joe  United States
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Seattle/Tacoma
Danley advertises their SH50 (for instance) as arrayable; the argument is with them. Still, I'm sure that they'll sound better than arraying 3 of the typical 2-way club box with wide coverage HF horn. Such an array won't magically sound better than one per side.

Just as well, some of the worst PA systems I've ever heard were comb-filtering nightmares, especially in the HF. All they could do was EQ out the harsh bits & hope to have some vocal clarity left.

A trick that works for Dave Rat (Red Hot Chili Peppers) is to array 2 tops side-by-side, then run only drums & vocals thru one top, and everything else thru the other. Comb filtering is unnoticeable. Another trick with 2 tops is to invert the 2nd box & stack it on the 1st, so that the HF horns are closest together.
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Old 16th January 2017, 11:19 AM   #10
jarvissound is offline jarvissound  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cuppa Joe View Post
Danley advertises their SH50 (for instance) as arrayable; the argument is with them. Still, I'm sure that they'll sound better than arraying 3 of the typical 2-way club box with wide coverage HF horn. Such an array won't magically sound better than one per side.
It won't magically sound better but it will buy you a lot more headroom. The problem here isn't sound quality...it is headroom. In any case, with all due respect, why are you bringing up $4k apiece boxes when we are clearly on a beer budget here? I could tell the OP to go buy a set of Meyer CQ-1's and I'm sure everyone would love it, except he'd be broke.

Back to the OP--I was thinking about your issue and remembered we used to have the same problem with our installed systems in dance studios. They'd have it cranked up to 11 all day with these Community, EV, or JBL 15" 2-ways and eventually melt the coil or literally rip the cone apart. I ended up replacing the cheap, flimsy 15" out of the box with an Eminence. Never blew another one. Same thing with these 18" JBL Mpros that are everywhere. My buddy's production company used to rent those to local DJ's and they'd blow them up. He ended up slapping 18" Eminence Sigmas in them and it made an enormous difference in the failure rate. The point is the drivers they use in these low end boxes are usually pretty weak. I'm not sure about your specific boxes, but you may be able to retrofit off the shelf drivers into them, which would be the cheapest solution of all. Just be aware that some of these have weird proprietary drivers in them that won't swap out. I think the Mackie SRM450 is one of them.

FWIW,
Brett

Last edited by jarvissound; 16th January 2017 at 11:39 AM. Reason: Quoted and didn't respond
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