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What's with all the powered speakers?

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  • What's with all the powered speakers?

    Maybe I'm a dinosaur but my PA consists of a mixer, effects rack like preamps, compressors, and delays, an active, tunable crossover, and Crown power amps pumping sound through bi-amped, passive speaker cabinets. But every day I see more and more powered speakers. Is this driven by the DJ community or do FOH engineers no longer want to bother with tuning their rigs and feeding the best quality sounds the band can produce into the best speakers they can afford? Today's ad from Musician's Friend lists no less than four powered loud speakers.

    Just curious about this phenomenon.
    Last edited by Ticdoulouroux; 05-12-2018, 01:48 PM.

  • #2
    This has been an evolving process over the last decade or so. There are positive and negatives for both configuration formats, but I will have to admit I like toting less and lighter gear. Yes, there are the extra power cable runs, but no racks, amps etc.My mixer has preamps, delays and compression built in...what is the downside? When a speaker craps out, it isn't necessarily the speaker...its possibly the amp...but, consider if your amp craps out with passive speakers...no sound thta way as well.. So it really is just a change in where the amps are located...and inboard DSP in the new mixer boards makes the old tried and true not the only game in town.
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    • #3
      Watt for watt there is a savings in weight because the power amps are mounted in the speaker cabs.
      Frequency response can be better because its the long speaker cables that eat up power and frequency response by their resistance.
      Dollar wise there is a savings buying powered speakers in many cases.
      Design wise a manufacturer will match the speakers with an optimal amp.

      Negatives? Not many. The speaker cabs are a little heavier, but your rack is lighter. If you have a newer mixer with built in effects you don't even need a rack any more. If your power amp, blows then the speaker is down too. I suppose you could wire in a bypass to the speakers so you could run them off an external power amp. If the power amp blows they are typically Class D amps so you shouldn't expect to get them repaired locally like you might for many older power amps. Allot of newer stuff is Factory repair or possibly dealer repair only. Shipping costs would be a concern.

      As far as which is better, If I were building a new system today I'd likely opt for a powered speaker system. Less cables involved and less stuff to move. I have an older system with stacks of cabs which are simply a pain in my back to move. I suppose If I were playing out I would have changed over but I only use my PA in the studio right now so it wont be changed out unless I have to.


      .

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Ticdoulouroux View Post
        Maybe I'm a dinosaur but my PA consists of a mixer, effects rack like preamps, compressors, and delays, an active, tunable crossover, and Crown power amps pumping sound through bi-amped, passive speaker cabinets. But every day I see more and more powered speakers. Is this driven by the DJ community or do FOH engineers no longer want to bother with tuning their rigs and feeding the best quality sounds the band can produce into the best speakers they can afford? Today's ad from Musician's Friend lists no less than four powered loud speakers.

        Just curious about this phenomenon.
        The "phenomenon" is one of advancing technology. It's 2018, my friend. Why would you want to carry around all that heavy and complicated gear?

        My PA consists of a rack-mounted digital mixer, two powered subwoofers and two powered main speakers. The monitor system is each musician with their own IEMs. FOH guy runs the main system via a tablet. Each musician runs their own monitor mix via their own tablet.

        All of the tuning, compressors, delays, etc is done within the mixer.

        It's all compact, lightweight, and set up time is a fraction of what it once was. And the sound is every bit as good as the old dinosaur systems--probably better---because the amps, crossover settings and speakers are all perfectly matched.

        in over a dozen years of using exclusively powered speakers, I've had, I think, a total of two failures. Which is why it's always good to keep at least one backup. But a bit of redundancy is always a good idea regardless of which type of system you're using.

        I surprised they still even make a lot of the old style gear. I've got a room full of it though, if anyone wants to take some of it off my hands for pretty cheap.
        Last edited by guido61; 05-15-2018, 10:58 AM.
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        • #5
          I like the fact that the weight of the "rack of death" has been distributed among several relatively easy to carry boxes.

          Having multiple powered speakers per side provides some redundancy in case of failure - that being said, Yamaha's reputation for reliability extends to their powered speakers.

          I also use a pair of powered speakers as monitors for piano (sounds much better in stereo) which makes for a simple setup.
          "Isn't it a pity, isn't it a shame,
          how we break each other's hearts
          and cause each other pain"

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          • #6
            Another positive is the speakers have processors too. Instead of needing to buy things like BBE's to correct for phase distortion between the low and high frequency drivers the speaker has this correction built in. My turbo sound speakers also correct bass response depending on where they are placed, in a corner, against a wall etc. and since your not buying individual units from different companies the cost savings can be quite substantial. My old PA had a 20 Channel mixer, BBE rack unit, 2 main speakers, 4 monitor speakers, a dbx drive rack, a rolling cabinet, 18" sub woofers. And of course stands. The total cost was over $5k. My current system uses a digital mixer, two powered column speakers iP1000 by turbo sound, in ear-monitors monitors and a couple of powered JBL speakers to add to the turbo sounds for larger gigs. The total cost? Just under $3k. Weight? well the rack with with power amps was on a good day a 3 man lift just to get it in the trailer. Moving the old rig was chore. The new system, the heaviest items are the subwoofer base of the Turbo Sound speakers about 40lbs each. The columns weigh 17lbs each. And I can adjust everything effects, levels from my phone! And save previous mixes, so I can go into a venue I played before and pull up the mix I previously used.

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            • #7
              ive got a bunch of that old junk gathering dust... altec lansing A7s w/511B’s... jbl dual bass bins, jbl 4722a’s on the lighter end at around 107lbs each... a set of turbosound , yorkville elite, qsc, or comparative will put a sound close enough to the dinosaurs in my stable to stop me from breaking my back for an audience that is not likely able to tell the difference... if i am... and i can pack my entire rig plus whatever instruments ive been selected by into my prius, set it up myself in the time it would take me to wrestle one voice of the theater up a short flight of stairs... im 60 human earth years... my qsc k/8 or10’s with a yorkville elite sub work well for my purposes..
              Originally posted by isaac42;n32240445

              Voltan is correct.

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