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studio monitors as a live PA
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Play Out! Performance Modulars  
Author studio monitors as a live PA
DonaldCrunk
For most of my gigs, i end up playing to relatively small audiences - probably 50 or so at most. I'm sick of relying on questionable house PAs and other bands - with a previous band i used a Matrix self powered system with 2 mains and a sub, but i was never happy with the fidelity (and it could barely keep up with our output - 2 guitarists, rhodes, vocals and synths + drum machines). nowadays i play solo, modular + vocals and a few other sounds - fidelity is more important to me than volume.

Self powered speakers are definitely the way i want to go - i want to transpose my home practice rig directly to the gig, using the small mixer i typically use in the studio. A nice pair of PA speaks like the JBL Eons or QSC are right around 800-1000 dollars for the pair. They sound good, but i don't require that sort of volume for the smaller gigs i do.


i've been noticing lots of KRK RP8G2s for sale lately - i use these in the studio and have been immensely pleased with them for the price i paid. they seem to be available for around 200 dollars (used) for the pair in my area.

I realize these speakers aren't 'ruggedized' for gigging - i would likely need some sort of road case - but the power is right (45 watts each), they sound great, and the price is certainly right.


i'm thinking i would like a total of 4 speakers - perhaps to experiment with quadrophonic, and just to provide extra output when not using them in quad.

my question is twofold - has anyone gigged (whether by choice or because of the lack of any other suitable solutions) with studio monitors?

if so, has anyone experimented with retrofitting monitors so they can be placed on standard speaker stands? that's my biggest concern at the moment.


thanks wiggs!
JohnLRice
I wouldn't recommend it but it can be done. I think most studio monitors, especially the relatively inexpensive ones, aren't designed robustly enough to endure the continuous high volumes and unpredictable huge transient spikes encountered in a live situation. I've seen studio monitors fried even just at small living room jam session when attempted. MY ASS IS BLEEDING cry

That said, some monitors have facility for stand mounting. There is a bracket for mounting Yamaha MSP5 monitors (about $500 per pair) to mic stands for instance:




Instead maybe consider getting some small inexpensive powered PA speakers from Seismic Audio. Only $275 for a pair! eek! I'm not sure how good they'll sound or how long they'll last but they might work out better for live gigs (logistics etc considered)
http://www.seismicaudiospeakers.com/Pair-Powered-8-Inch-Speaker-p/pws- 8pair.htm
JohnLRice
Hhhhhm, I had forgotten about the Kustom (Powerworks) PW50 little PA speakers. Only $100 each, multiple inputs with EQ, stand pole hole, carrying handle. Maybe 4 of them for your quad setup plus one sub??? hmmm.....

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/kustom-pw50-personal-pa-syste m
DonaldCrunk
thanks John. i'll look into those speakers, they sound like a good deal.

i had a show last night in a coffee shop, opted to follow your advice and NOT bring the studio monitors, playing out of stereo bass amps instead. good thing i did - the act after mine was pure harsh noise, would've destroyed my speakers for sure d'oh!
anthonybisset
Small line arrays with tapped subs or little backloaded horn setups (like compact reggae scoops) can be nice.. The diy econowave project which duplicates the geddes summa design (i think) will kill you're krk's in both fidelity and power handling. I've had good luck with danley, QSC, martin, funktion one, turbosound, hk and community. I know some of these just by name alone excuse themselves from budget minded space, but I mention them for a couple reasons,
1.) these brands haven't really ever let me down (a lot of others have!) &
2.) these brands older offerings are/were very good and can be had cheaply 2nd hand.

I'm Not a fan of JBL and Mackie. Some of the older Yamaha cabs are cool e.g., (6115h) which happens to use an amazing compression driver. There was a community FRC (For Real Coaxial) rig up on CL for $500 in Petaluma or Santa Rosa in the last couple days.. A bit big for what most of us probably want to carry around, but that'll give 115dB+ with smallish input (all horn systems don't need much power unless your doing the nightclub thing, and even then it's up to ~70% more efficient than a ported box or infinite baffle).

fwiw, EAW looks good but I haven't knowingly played on any of their stuff.

The Klipsch La Scala and of course K-Horn (too heavy for gigging) can be a lot of fun to play on and I would take those in a home studio before crappy budget monitors.

Modular synths deserve the best sound system possible... The audience needs to experience the intricacies of the music more than most other style --- since precision and timbral depth are a big part of the reason we enjoy making music in this way. Bad sound systems (for example, Mackie's on poles) always get the middle finger from me.

Just to be open about preferences, I don't like the voicing, signature and dynamic reproduction of the KRK's. They feel hyped and unrefined, but that's just me. One monitor that would work well in both studio and small live settings would be the Urei 809 but it's possibly too smooth sounding and needs a big amp to control the bass.. fwiw, I've been a fan and longtime user of urei and altec co-axial speakers. I guess a motivated someone could bolt a plate amp on the back of the 809's and be good to go (for small venue's). If I was DIYing a live sound speaker for small venue's I'd do something using the urei co-axials but in a different cabinet like a Karlson or mini Scoop... Having a bunch of slam in the 140-180hz zone helps people imagine the bass and allows the neighbors to get some rest (and saves you're back because you don't actually need much below 50hz anyway, as in no sub necessary). If I was diy'ing something for fidelity I'd use B&G 48" ribbons in some sort of shortened vertical horn with a tapped sub... That'd be fairly portable/lightweight as well.

A bunch of semi-organized thoughts from a longtime student of soundsystems and speaker tech.
John Noble
I use one of these as my "studio monitor":

http://www.electrovoice.com/product.php?id=1066

hihi

While I like the Dynaudio speakers in my living room rig, the powered EV is a completely different experience and really makes the modular come alive. Size matters, power matters, and efficiency (AKA horn loaded tweeters) matters.

In a live situation other things start to matter a lot too, like smooth off-axis response and huge amounts of headroom. Studio monitors can't compete.

The JBL EONs don't have any bottom end, but they're lightweight. The QSC K series is well regarded, but the top end sounds kind of hyped to me and I think others manufacturers have stepped up their game to the point that the QSCs seem kind of pricey for what they do. Yamaha's new stuff has a good reputation, it's worth listening to.

I settled on the EV Live X 12 because it just sounds great: not harsh, not hyped, usable bass (45-50Hz real world), nice warm sound and tons of power. The 15 doesn't sound as good to me and doesn't add all that much bottom end while adding considerable weight and bulk. Stereo isn't ultra important for most live situations, though YMMV if you're bouncing things around in the stereo field (or quad, etc.), so you could possibly get away with one decent powered PA speaker in a wheelie bag like this one:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/GPA712SM/
eole
i've seen a few electroacoustic / experimental musicians using little genelecs for concerts.
(8020, 8030, 8040 or 8050)
they are really robust and they sounds really good.
+ you can attach them on microphones stands !
(for example the Genelec Z8000)

if i was planning to buy a concert sound system, i would go for them.
LeFreq
The Behringer Eurolive PA series can be had pretty cheap and it's a decent product line... People hate on Behringer, but they actually reverse engineer high-end products and use cheaper components to lower the price point... This is one of their more successful engineering feats...

Anyways, I just sold 2 15" and 2 12"'s because I didn't have space nor (as much) need for them anymore. I wanted to keep them around, but it made sense to sell. I used to run sound for smaller venues, coffee shops, and house parties for spare cash using these a few years ago and the sound was always good (partially due to me working w/ the speakers, not just them alone, but they were still good). I used the small 12"s as active floor monitors as well, then I didn't have to carry power amps with me.

Anyways, it's better than using studio monitors, although maybe a bit more expensive unless you find them on CL. I sold mine ridiculously cheap because nobody would buy them, I assume everyone has to.... so, it's worth a look.

I have seen people use studio monitors for speakers, hell, I've played DJ sets at substantially large house parties on them but it usually ended poorly (blew out a speaker) or just sounded like shit. You could get away with it in a coffee shop, but (as John Noble was saying) studio monitors cater to "the sweet spot", so it's hard to immerse a crowd (or even a few people) in sound with them.
mousegarden
Mmmm ? this whole subject of live amplification for electronic instruments is fascinating. One of the things that I'm always arguing about, and battling with people about is the dynamic range and high end response of systems used to reproduce synthesizers. I go to a quite a lot of orchestral concerts, and the big difference that is always immediately apparent is the amazing top end presence that you get with acoustic instruments, and the dynamics of acoustic percussion are truly mind blowing. And most importantly, the transient response of a plucked or percussive acoustic sound is so impressive, it's almost impossible to reproduce electronically. But that's down to the state of the art at the moment, we are still a long way from even getting close to reproducing natural transients and dynamics, whatever we might think.
It is very rare, that I here electronics presented with this degree of dynamics and high end response........unless you have a no holds barred truly high end PA system. I'm always having to defend electronic music and musicians to people that always use this short coming, this comparison to acoustic instruments, as a criticism, but unfortunately it is true in most cases.
I would say that it is worthwhile spending as much time effort and money as you possibly can in making sure that you achieve a really dynamic, "impressive" and inspiring live sound as possible, it is your window on to the world, and it is through this window that you will be judged. In the past I have used Meyer Sound equipment, and have had no problems with it at all, it's like having your studio sound on the stage, but louder.

MouseGarden.
slow_riot
I was recently loaned an old PA system, and I have some familiarity with the economics and maintanence of them.

I don't believe it will be worth your while getting studio monitors to gig with... they are designed to have high accuracy and low ruggedness.

You can get very good quality old power amplifiers for around $150 ... check old Crown amplifiers.

Good analogue crossovers such as Ashly are always on ebay.

You can also get good cabinets cheaply.

There are good forums with much better knowledge than me... this is good one

http://forum.speakerplans.com/
Jordan2Peter
DonaldCrunk wrote:
thanks John. i'll look into those powered speakers, they sound like a good deal.

i had a show last night in a coffee shop, opted to follow your advice and NOT bring the studio monitors, playing out of stereo bass amps instead. good thing i did - the act after mine was pure harsh noise, would've destroyed my speakers for sure d'oh!

Maybe 4 of them for your quad setup plus one sub???
The Grump
They are different animals. Horses for courses is not a joke here. PA, while providing decent accuracy are built to be portable, and usually designed for more than one person (an audience) to listen to. Accuracy is a beautiful thing, and to be honest, I am using a pair of Meyer UPA-1P's turned (WAAAYYY) down and tuned for the room with a sub, to write and practice my live set on, but I have no illusions that that setup is what I should be using for engineering my, and others' recordings. That's different task, uses different tools, and requires a different set of ears and skills. And honestly, people can hem and haw and try to pretend like some philosophical wankings on this have meaning, but the fact is that if you're trying a different approach, you're probably going about it in a half-assed fashion, and that's just a fact. If we're talking about engineering, engineering is NOT art, it is science, there is method that achieves the stated goal, and then there are ones that do not.


CAVEAT: if you're just having fun, do it how ever you want, that's a different thing. All opinions have equal value and weight in that case. If you're trying to do it right, like or as a professional, PA speakers are for Public Address (playing for others) and studio monitors are for studio-type work, different jobs, different ears, different techniques and tools.

Good luck. And if you're looking for a small PA, with sound that is arguably as good or better than most studios, PM me. Not cheap, but sound quality good enough for the Royal Opera House in London.
dubonaire
Jordan2Peter wrote:
DonaldCrunk wrote:
thanks John. i'll look into those powered speakers, they sound like a good deal.

i had a show last night in a coffee shop, opted to follow your advice and NOT bring the studio monitors, playing out of stereo bass amps instead. good thing i did - the act after mine was pure harsh noise, would've destroyed my speakers for sure d'oh!

Maybe 4 of them for your quad setup plus one sub???


I wonder if the OP is still in need of this advice six years later.
mousegarden
eole wrote:
i've seen a few electroacoustic / experimental musicians using little genelecs for concerts.
(8020, 8030, 8040 or 8050)
they are really robust and they sounds really good.
+ you can attach them on microphones stands !
(for example the Genelec Z8000)

if i was planning to buy a concert sound system, i would go for them.


I agree on the Genelecs, I took part in a large studio jam using small Genelecs on stands, no ill effects, and they are quite rugged.
TruantMonk
I've used a pair of 15 year+ old Samson 65a studio monitors for live gigs: inside and outside.
For small settings like a gallery they were fine (75 watt low, 25 watt high).
Once I even had them on the roof of a single-story gallery space. The audience were outside on the street, and we played from the inside of the gallery’s front window. It was enough even to stand out over traffic noise.

However, no experiencing with adapting them for speaker stands.
Kent
You can absolutely gig with studio monitors as long as the characteristics work how you wish: power, dispersion, weight, ability to withstand abuse, etc.
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