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  • need advice on PA speakers

    I play in a 5 member classic rock band. We play small venues- clubs, private parties. We need to purchase PA main speakers to replace a pair we've been borrowing. Whatever we purchase will work in tandem with a Behringer EUROLIVE B1800D-PRO Active 18" Subwoofer. Two questions: 1. Would a system with 12" speakers with compression driver be sufficient, considering that we have the subwoofer, or would a pair of speakers with 15" speakers be preferable? 2. Active or passive? if passive we will need to purchase an amp to power them.  I've been looking at some of the speakers in the Behringer line, e.g. the B212XL



  • #2

    Don't look at speakers, LISTEN to them. Don't get the cheapest ones that look like they can do the job, get the cheapest ones that sound good to you. You should buy from a store where you can demo them. You aren't likely to be able to get your whole band in to play through them, but if you have a decent recording that represents the sound of your band, that would be worth a listen. Listen to both 12" and 15" speakers and then decide. It depends on what those five pieces are, how many vocal parts, how loud you need to be, and how much strain and pain you're willing to go through to haul and set them up.

    As far as active vs. passive, active seems to be a pretty good way to go these days. You won't get the wrong amplifier for the speaker, and a well designed active speaker will have some custom tuning to even out the response of the speaker. The disadvantage of an active system is that the speaker and amplifier are both potential points of failure. You can't use one without the other. With a passive system, if the amplifier dies, you can replace it and continue to use the speakers, or if a speaker dies, you can substitute another one even if it isn't a perfect match and get through a gig.

    I don't know what Behringer is doing these days, but I've never heard one of their speakers that I really liked. The Mackie SRM-450 is a pretty good all around speaker, the QSC K-12 is quite nice, and RCF is making some very good sounding speakers in that class and price range. Someone will probalby come up with a JBL to recommend. I don't dislike them, they just add new models so often that I can't keep up.

    Remeber that the speaker is how your audience hears you, so don't under-buy.

    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then


    • WRGKMC
      WRGKMC commented
      Editing a comment

      Mikes right about listening and matching the gear. Allot depends on weather you are going to play big places and mic the band as well. If you play mostly small and medium clubs the all you need is to have good vocals. If you play a big gig you can always hire a sound many and big rig for a night.

      I've worked with active and passive systems and they both have benifits and drawbacks. My system is passive and It consists of a three way system. I have separate power amps to drive the lows mids and highs through a three way crossover. I also have a full complement of effects and EQ's in the rack which makes it weigh a ton.

      The big problem with a passive system is you have more wire connections and setup takes allot longer. At the end of the night when everyone is beat and wanting to hit thr road, you're still winding up cords and trying to get everything packed up to move. You have this problem on both ends, setting up for gigs and setting up for rehursal. That rack unit is dead weight that takes up space and its an extra item you have to haul.

      My suggestion is buy an active system and active monitors if you dont need a sound man. Its easier to connect up and get running quickly and the extra energy it takes to set up and moving a passive system can be put to use during your performance.

      As far as speaker sizes go, I'm partial to having a 15" and horn over a 12" system myself. I like having that extra beef for the voices to compete with the bass and kick. There are some good 12" systems as well. The drivers have gotten so much better over the years. I just find the 12" sound a bit thin in larger clubs. If you have a solo singer it may be OK but if you have allot of harmonies going it may not be the best choice.

      Dont forget monitors as well. the key to great sounding vocals is monitors. I played one gig where the band had those 10" active Behringer Monitors. I was very surprised at how good they sounded for small spot monitors. Very light weight too. I have no idea as to their durability over time, I just know thay had more than sufficiant volume in that club and produced a nice warm sound for my vocals. 

      As far as mains cabs, you really need to try a few out. I really like JBL stuff for passive cabs. They have great drivers and can produce some major thunder. I dont know if they make active cabs, I havent checked their lineup in awhile. Peavy and Yamaha make some great cabs as well. Theres allot of new stuff out there. Somes good and some isnt. It may be worth going out to see what your competition is using in clubs and decide from there.

  • #3

    You can still use active monitors off that PA head. It will eliminate the need for another power head to drive those and cut down on the gear you have to haul around. Wit a monitor send driving them, you bypass the Sunns power head and pretty much drive them directly.

    If you have one of those older vintage Sunns from the 70's 80's its unlikely you'll benefit a whole lot using really good speakers. Allot of old gear was designed to run with its matching cabs and if the cabs couldn't produce a flat response, they would often tweak the heads tone stack to compensate for what the cabs couldn't reproduce.

    I have one of their older 200w heads I bought years ago for like $50. I used it for a short time while I was building up my system. Sunn made a few PA setups that were pretty good, They were ahead of the pack on allot of their gear especially their Model T stuff that would rattle the teeth out of your head. Allot of their budget stuff was pretty bad though. They made allot of cheap junk before going out of business and being bought by Fender who revived their products.

    Even when I plug that head into my cabs with EV speakers and horns, its audio quality is pretty lame. It would probably sound pretty good with its matching PA columns.  I found the heads frequency response has the lower mids scooped out a bit. This would help compensate for those old sunn speakers with the square magnets they used in most of their equipment during that time that put out a lot of lower mids.  The columns for my particular Sunn head likely sounded pretty good with the matching head, but swap the cabs or the head out and its apparent that neither is close to having a flat response on their own.

    That's the problem with allot of older gear. They built around budget components at the best cost and even good components had major deficiencies. They could compensate for those deficiencies by tweaking things to work together to made budget components work together to sound pretty good, but unless you used the same manufacturers gear to expand the system, you'd wind up with a sonic nightmare. Kustom was another popular PA that sounded awful when you swapped gear out.

    Shure did pretty good on their designs. They at least attempted to get a good linear sound with their old Vocal Master PA. I have one of their old heads and it still sounds pretty good. The only drawback is it had limited EQing control built in to prevent feedback from the cabs and mics of the time. 

    Drivers and cabs have come a long way since then. The SPL, Wattage, Frequency response and weight have drastically improved plus they don't cost nearly as much for the quality good quality.

    If its a newer Fender Sunn PA head, the response is probably on par with most powered heads out there and will work OK on most cabs. The newer ones have a flatter response and will drive most cabs fine depending on the version of the head. You probably need 15's to get some beef happening with their older heads.

    Since its a portable head, what I'd do is take it down to the music store and try it out on some cabs and see what sounds best. If you get relatively good tone with all the EQ knobs cranked to 120  and sufficient volume with the volumes half up, then you have enough range there to compensate for different room acoustics. If you have to run the EQ full up or down to get a decent sound, then you don't have a good cab match and that's it. I'd also research what the head was originally designed to drive. It may help to find a match.

    Be sure your cabs impedance matches the head as well. Some older gear had limited impedance tolerance, and many Sunns like the heads I have run safely with higher impedance. If the impedance is lower than the specs you'll  likely overheat it and blow the power amp stage.  Sunns were ahead of their time using mosfets and induction coils for tube tone in their heads. You can still find most of the SS devices for repair but finding the unique transformers and induction coils used in their unique power stages are nearly impossible to find.


    • soureel
      soureel commented
      Editing a comment

      great advice. Thank you. The Sunn head is owned by our guitar player. Not sure what model it is. I believe it was purchased new in the late '90s. I can get a model number if that would be helpful.