I am looking for a relatively small PA system mainly for live band work (and occasionally parties-DJs) for audiences around 200-300 people(500 tops on rare occasions) in closed and open spaces. Just so you know, most of the times the bands are in the heavy rock-metal territory.
So far I‘ve been using a pair of RCF ART 315-A Mk II along with 1 BEHRINGER B1800D-PRO subwoofer. I’m very satisfied with the RCF sound (not so much with the sub which I would just call decent for its price) but I constantly find myself running out of headroom and I’m looking to upgrade my system so as not to push my current one to its limits all the time.
Recently I bought 2x EV ELX 115P based on the very nice reviews around and that they give an SPL of 134 dB on paper which should make quite a difference compared to the 128 dBs the RCF ART 315-A give but when I got to try them out on a gig I was very disappointed with the EVs. They were a bit lacking in the upper mids and highs and the SPL was not really any higher than what I could achieve with the RCFs. I did a side by side A/B comparison the next day with both the EVs and the RCFs set up barely below the limiter kicking in and indeed the EVs had a slight edge on the bottom end, but they just didn’t have the clarity the RCFs had. The SPL was also very similar and I kinda had the impression the RCF was slightly louder.
Anyway...long story short, I ended up returning the EVs since I was still in the money-back period the store had and now I’m looking into other options. I’m writing all this just as a fact that numbers on paper aren’t everything and also to give you some perspective on the sound I’m ideally after.
Since I liked the RCF sound so much more I’m looking at some of their other speakers but I decided to look into 12” speakers this time with the intention of pairing them with subs. So far I’ve narrowed it down to the ART 722-A and the HD12-A. The main difference between the 2 is that the 722 has a 2” HF driver while the HD12 has a 1”. Other than that, the SPL, coverage and frequency response are similar, but budget is always a concern and their price difference is quite big with the HD12-A at around 800 euros each and the 722-A at 1200. I’m not very experienced with speakers so much as to know exactly what to expect from a bigger HF driver but from what I found out so far a 2” HF driver will lower the crossover point and the result is clearer upper mids and highs which results in more clarity. A bigger driver will also give some longer range(throw) on the higher frequencies so it helps with covering bigger crowds. If I’m wrong on any of this please correct me I could really use the info because I really can’t decide if I really need the bigger HF driver.
Now with the subs...whatever I choose for tops I will pair with 1 sub per side (especially since I am aiming for 12” tops) and I got 2 options here. Either get a second BEHRINGER at least as a temporary solution till I gather some money to buy a pair of better subs, or get a better pair of subs now and try to sell the BEHRINGER I have. I was thinking of the dB Technologies SUB 18 D as a better option which seems loud enough and dB Technologies is a sister company to RCF so I have reasons to believe they make good products, after all, this sub uses an RCF driver and looks very similar with the RCF SUB 718-AS.
If I go with the HD12-A option for tops, that leaves me some money to consider (or at least aim for, relatively soon) a new pair of subs, because as I said the BEHRINGER B1800D-PRO isn’t anything special and 1 alone can’t really give the kick I want, at least in open spaces. The dB Technologies SUB 18 D on the other hand costs around 1150 euros each, which is a huge difference to the 450 euros the BEHRINGER costs and this is out of the question if I go with the 722-A option for tops...
Anyway...to sum it up a bit, I could use any advice on which route I should take because with all that in mind and no first hand experience on these speakers I really can’t decide… Another very basic question I have is if there will be much difference in headroom with any of these upgrades I am considering, because on paper I’m just going 2 dBs louder…
Keep in mind that I don’t have the option to hear any demo units close to where I live, so the classic “go listen to both speakers yourself and decide” does not apply here .
I would also like to hear some opinions about the choices I made (the subs in particular because I can’t find any info around) and if bigger subs are more important than the 2” HF drivers for live band PA applications (mostly heavy rock and metal bands) and for crowds usually around 200-300 people.