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Portable PA with strong stereo and low end
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear  
Author Portable PA with strong stereo and low end
Koekepan
In a perfect world:

I'd have a PA I could either carry to a venue, or cart on a dolly.

It would have either single point stereo wizardry, or two speakers that I could place intelligently.

It would deliver sub down to 20Hz.

It would deliver at least 50W RMS of power (this is for smaller venues or crowds, not blowing out a stadium) but anything over 100W is probably overkill anyway.

Nice to have would be an EQ, possibly battery power. I don't give a monkey's for wireless whatsits and bluetooth gadgets; they're irrelevant in my world.

Any recommendations?

(The low end is important for some elements of my music, in particular some more cinematic impressionist parts. The stereo field ditto. The battery isn't vital because I have other solutions, and the EQ ditto because I have a mixer with EQ.)
DiscoDevil
Even large volume, arena class subs have trouble reaching below 30hz with anything that is pleasant to listen to.

I think 40-50hz is a more realistic goal for actual usable low end.
JohnLRice
Yeah, those requirements are pretty tough to meet! Low end in an area larger than a car or small bedroom can take enormous power and serious drivers.

I think a pair of QSC K10.2 powered speakers would get you most of the way there and if you add a sub like maybe the KW181 you'd be sounding very impressive in small venues. I've used a single QSC K10 (the older version) at synth meets with 5U modulars and it has sounded amazing all by itself.

https://www.qsc.com/live-sound/products/loudspeakers/powered-loudspeak ers/k2-series/

https://www.qsc.com/live-sound/products/loudspeakers/powered-loudspeak ers/kw-series/kw181/

You should look for rental outfits in your area, talk to them and try a few things out, then you'll have a better idea of what you want to buy?
Koekepan
Fair enough. In a less perfect world, at least I'd like good stereo imaging. If I accept 50Hz as my low end there are a bunch of options, so does anyone have comment on the stereo image of the tall linear array style systems, compared to a couple of speakers placed out on speaker stands?

Alternatively, are there any linear array systems that daisy-chain well to offer stereo imaging without drama?

Obviously this isn't for an audiophile setup. This is for places like small halls that don't have a dedicated PA, or even a coffee shop or something like that where I can't tap into their muzak speakers.
DiscoDevil
Stereo imaging isn't something you associate with PAs. You generally want "coverage" and a certain dB at a certain distance. I'd get the best PA you can afford. Some sound WAY better than others but anyone in the audience not perfectly aligned in between the two speakers is not going to get a stereo "image". There are things you can do with fills and whatnot to compensate but I think your goal should be something like "How small/portable can I go and still get the kind of coverage I need for a certain size room"
JohnLRice
I thought this QSC chart was interesting (I'm not shilling for QSC, I'm just more familiar with their PA speakers then other brands cool ). Note how the coverage is widest on the smallest model:
mmp
I am using a pair of the K8.2 s for my live keyboard setup and am very impressed by their low end. It just doesn’t seem possible that speakers that small and light should be able to sound like they do. I am very, very happy with QSC.
Koekepan
To DiscoDevil:

You're right, but stereo isn't banned or impossible in a PA system either, and you get venues that provide it pretty well. I figure, if Suzanne Ciani can specify quad, I can at least figure out a good enough stereo setup that a basic pingpong delay isn't a complete waste of electronics.

More to the point, I lean to the psychedelic and ambient end of things, so while I don't expect that everyone will get headphone levels of stereo experience, I can make it more than nil, especially if I have wide speaker placement in a reasonably sized venue. Will it be imbalanced for someone sitting right up against one speaker? Sure, but that's unavoidable. Instead, with reasonable dispersion and direction, I should have a fairly decent, recognisable representation of movement.

JohnLRice: interesting! I had actually been looking at a deal on a two speaker JBL setup, and I was thinking that a pass-through sub would complement the sound down to 30Hz without breaking the bank. Put the sub in the middle (bass won't be as obvious anyhow in a stereo field), place the left and right speakers wide, and you have a halfway decent 2.1 setup for a small venue and an audience counted in scores rather than thousands.
DiscoDevil
Right. My point is that speakers that are meant to go loud and project their output far and wide are not going to "image" like home stereo equipment. It's just not part of the design. They are all pretty much designed to run in stereo pairs, that's not an issue. Pick a pair that you like the sound of, that fit your budget and are easy enough to move around. I am not a huge fan of the QSC sound but their speakers are small, light weight and sound good while providing good coverage. Another option is the JBL PRX series which might run you around $2000 for a pair of 12" tops and a 15" sub, will get you great coverage and some usable low end down around 40hz
Koekepan
Well, I was either very silly or very pragmatic.

I spotted a B stock deal on Sweetwater for a JBL EON206P setup. About $200, and I snapped it up.

It's not my ideal, so why would I do it?

First: cheap, portable, decent sound. 2x80W will fill a cafe, lecture hall, bookshop or black box theatre adequately.

Second: The low end is lacking, but I can get a sub to push it through that will easily make up the deficit.

Third: I don't have to ditch them if I expand my setup. I just use them as field fillers, or as monitoring speakers. They'll work fine. For the price, a solid set of speakers that will do everything I care about except the very bottom two octaves.

So, any thoughts on a sub that fits that approximate power range, and ideally will handle a highpass cutoff on the pass-through around 100Hz?
DiscoDevil
Get the matching Eon sub and you'll have a full range system tuned and matched.
DiscoDevil
Actually, I just looked at the system you bought. Integrating a sub with this could be difficult since it's meant to be a complete, closed system. You'd need to abandon the mixer aspect of it, run the outputs of your gear in to a sub that has a built in crossover and a "pass thru" or "hi pass" loop on it. You'd then run cables from the subs outputs in to the 1st and 2nd inputs on the back of the EON and try to blend the sub/EON systems together as best you can.
Zenn
A Nice Stack of 2x3 Phillips MFB 544s SlayerBadger! . Forget about the battery power though hihi
suicidelane
I've played synth heavy music through quite a few PA systems. The usual suspects (JBL Eons etc). In that class, the Yamaha DXR series was the best I've come across when factoring in sound, portability and what not. It sounded good, bass from the modular reproduced well, it could get loud but still be clear, and it covered a loot of area.
calaveras
I forget all the specifics but there was an article by a huge person in sound reinforcement a while back essentially proving it is futile to put effort into stereo playback for live sound.
IIRC the main crux of the piece was that due to SPL, wave propagation and fletcher munson loudness curve, in a medium sized venue only about 5% of the audience will get a stereo image with a left right pair of speakers.
The solution provided was to do a 3.1 setup with the center (flown) stack being the 'left' channel, and the outside stacks both being 'right'. This would still only give about 20-30% of the audience a stereo image. The rest would get a lopsided image.
The other point he made was that if you do anything aggressive with panning like putting a drum mic or guitar even part of the way down the pan pot, it will vanish from the other stack. Again due to loudness curves and wave propagation.

Basically you can only count on stereo for effects returns in small coffee shop gigs. Go Mono.
milkshake
Koekepan wrote:
Well, I was either very silly or very pragmatic.

I spotted a B stock deal on Sweetwater for a JBL EON206P setup. About $200, and I snapped it up.

It's not my ideal, so why would I do it?

First: cheap, portable, decent sound. 2x80W will fill a cafe, lecture hall, bookshop or black box theatre adequately.

Second: The low end is lacking, but I can get a sub to push it through that will easily make up the deficit.

Third: I don't have to ditch them if I expand my setup. I just use them as field fillers, or as monitoring speakers. They'll work fine. For the price, a solid set of speakers that will do everything I care about except the very bottom two octaves.

So, any thoughts on a sub that fits that approximate power range, and ideally will handle a highpass cutoff on the pass-through around 100Hz?

Those eons are fine speakers.
Almost all active subs have a crossover build in, lots of great options available.
If I can make a suggestion, get a cardioid sub. This will give a smoother frequency range over a larger area.

On stereo, panpot is not going to function well. Turn it to the left and the right side of the audience will not hear the sound.
But there is a solution: Haas delay. It adds a tiny bit of delay to one channel giving the impression that the sound has shifted to the other channel. Of cause this only works if you are in the sweet spot. But people left and right will all hear the sound at the same level.
Downside is that this causes combfiltering when mixed in mono, so be careful.
Haas delay vst.
pjay
presonus Temblor T8 is nicely designed small (21lbs) 8" self-powered sub that'll do alot for its size and weight. its all going to depend on the room size and shape tho; and placement. but if youre plugging to a wall outlet, its a good option. theres the danley nano sub as well.

Danley Sound Labs Servodrive Contrabass is the only "small" boc that'll truely go that low.

try the TDK Life on Record 3 speaker boombox if u want super-portable, loud, and battery-powered.

i have a smaller TDK Life On Record TREK-360 that i use for jamming on my rooftop that i love. two tweeters and a downward firing 8" sub and its also a USB power bank (small USB eurorack power supplies available on reverb)
Koekepan
DiscoDevil:

I'm not worried about giving up the mixing function on the speaker system, because I'm one of those crazies that shows up to a performance with his own mixer. A sub with pass-through and a crossover function won't lose me anything I cared about in the first place.

Calaveras: I think we've read the same article, but I took a different lesson from it. Bearing in mind the limitations of live sound and audience placement, the question becomes what I can get, rather than what I can't. To simply go mono is to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I want the audience to have a sense of motion, not pinpoint accurate virtual soundstages.

milkshake:

Thanks for the suggestion of a cardiod. I hadn't given that a lot of thought, and I should have. As far as stero placement in terms of panpots, my intention was more for subtle placement. The real goal is to allow for things like pingpong delay and leslie emulations to play a role. There are some tricks available, depending on the acoustics of the environment, such as bouncing off the left and right walls on either side of the audience so that the apparent source is further to the right or left than actual speaker placement - enough, at any rate, that stereo effects do play a meaningful role.

pjay: Thanks, I'll check out Danley and Presonus to see what's on offer.
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