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Does this powered speaker have the right combination of features, performance AND price?

By Craig Vecchione

The ZLX-12P is the powered 12” speaker in Electro-Voice’s ZLX Series. With a comprehensive feature set that includes high SPL capability, light weight, and a surprisingly low price, does it deliver good performance, and the smooth response that Electro-Voice speakers are known for? Let’s have a look.


What You Need to Know

  • The ZLX12P features a EVS-12K 12” low frequency driver, while the high frequencies are handled by a DH-1K 1.5” titanium compression driver.
  • The frequency range (-10dB) is 50Hz-20kHz, and the frequency response (-3dB) is 65Hz-18kHz.
  • The E/V ZLX-12P features a 1,000 watt Class D amplifier, which is capable of generating up to 126dB SPL.
  • Coverage / dispersion is 90 degrees horizontal and 60 degrees vertical (nominal -6dB).
  • The ZLX-12P has two XLR/TRS combo jacks that can handle mic or line inputs, along with a 3.5mm Aux input. 
  • An XLR Link output jack allows you to connect additional speakers.
  • The Electro-Voice ZLX-12P has a rugged polypropylene cabinet that helps reduce weight and makes it easier to transport, along with a heavy-duty 18 gauge steel grille to protect the speaker. It looks durable and feels sturdy, and it should withstand the occasional knocks and bumps that live performance PA products are subjected to.
  • The dimensions of the ZLX-12P are 24.02” high, 14.02” wide, and 14.02” deep.
  • The net weight is 34.39 lbs

ZLX-12P\_Back.pngThe rear panel has an LCD Display and One-Knob control of the following parameters:

  • Mode (Music, Live, Speech, Club)
  • Location (Pole, Monitor, Bracket)
  • Treble
  • Bass
  • Sub croossover frequency, with settings of Off, 60Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, and one for pairing with the Electro-Voice ELX118P powered sub.
  • LED (On, Off, Display Limiter)
  • Display Contrast
  • System Setting Reset



  • There are three inputs, but the 3.5mm (1/8”) Aux input does not have separate level control. This is quite common for active speakers with such an input, as the assumption is that level can be controlled at the media player, but I see enough complaints about this that it might be worthwhile to add a simple level control.
  • The pole cup does not have a tilt-down feature.



Electro-Voice speakers have long enjoyed a reputation for smooth response. Is the ZLX12P a smooth operator? Oh yeah.  It was hard to make this speaker sound harsh. The exception is pushing the speaker hard when set to “Club” mode, which adds the most top and bottom end EQ. At higher output levels this setting sounded muddled in the lows and mids. The “Music” mode adds slightly less EQ emphasis, so it might be a better choice for higher level playback of recorded media if the speaker must be used full-range. Clearly one would not typically expect a 12” speaker to be used for high-output bass-heavy club music without subwoofer support, so this is a minor issue.

With a spec’d maximum output of 126dB SPL the ZLX12P is loud enough to handle front of house in small and medium venues for most any genre if it’s got subwoofer support, and easily handles the typical solo or duo guitar and vocals show alone. It’s a very effective wedge monitor when set to “Live” mode and “monitor” position (via the digital control settings). Vocals cut through and weren’t fatiguing. Though it doesn’t have huge low end, when used for bass or drum monitoring it doesn’t bottom out, rattle or buzz. When paired with an ELX118P (the internal crossover has a specific setting for this sub) it matched output quite well and sounded like the pair was designed for each other.

The amplifier didn’t generate any power-on or -off noises. The cabinet fit and finish is good, with rubber feet for vertical and horizontal (monitor) placement. There is a pole cup with a set screw. The cabinet has three recessed handles located at the top, center and bottom of the rear edges. With a weight of only 34 pounds, portability is no problem at all. There are a lot of heavy subs with fewer handles.

The back panel digital control display with one-knob control is an unexpected feature in a speaker at this price point. I found control intuitive, with bass, treble, crossover frequency, and EQ modes among the controllable DSP settings. Signal level meters for inputs 1 and 2 are the default display, which is a nice touch. This metering will display the text “limiting” and the digital control has a setting to use the front panel power indicator LED as a limiter indicator as well.

For the price it’s hard not to like the Electro-Voice ZLX-12P powered speaker a lot. I had to check and recheck the price while I had this speaker. At a $400 street price, it’s only a hundred bucks more than the passive ZLX12, let alone many other comparable passive speakers. It’s not easy to find an active speaker that’s price-competitive with passive speakers. 



Musician’s Friend Electro-Voice ZLX-12P online catalogue page ($699.98 MSRP, $399.99 "street")

Electro-Voice ZLX-12P product web page

Electro-Voice ZLX micro-site

Electro-Voice Home Page


Electro-Voice ZLX video tutorial:




Craig Vecchione 101 x 101.JPG


Craig Vecchione is an IT professional by day, and dabbles in pro audio and bass guitar in his spare time. He’s been the moderator of  the Live Sound Forum since 2006.


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