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Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

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Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby bigster » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:32 am

If anyone had any thoughts or advice on this I'd be very grateful.

I play in a four-piece synth band. It's soundscapes, classical elements, some electronica-style drums. Not dance or pop style drums but quite complex, full-range stuff. The stereo component is important. Venue sizes and styles are anything from little 50 seater studio spaces to 250 seat halls and churches but playback levels will be significantly less that typical pop/rock/DJ gigs.

So far, for a few gigs, I've used a pair of these budget Gear4Music column PAs: https://www.gear4music.com/PA-DJ-and-Li ... -Pair/2AO7 They are adequately powerful (for smaller venues we have them reigned right in) and from a portability point of view the 2 subwoofer cabinets and tops bags are manageable. But they're not really proving to be good enough quality from a sound quality point of view. Bass is very good, but the top grills are prone to resonant rattles, and there's not the top end clarity and transparency I'd like. They seem boxy in the upper mid-range.

What would be a step up from this model of column PA? Budget £1000-1500 for a pair. I see things like dB Technologies es802, LD CURV500 etc, but beyond that it all goes out of budget. I'm not fixed on the sub+satellites column format either - if a traditional point source setup sounded significantly better I'd happily go with that, though I would be loathe to sacrifice low end oomph. No requirement for any on-board mixing facilities with any of it, by the way, though perhaps some form of tone control or tilt could be useful for adapting to different venues and placements.

Thanks - R
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby AlecSp » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:57 am

When you consider that your cheap & cheerful speakers cost £900 for a pair, you're asking a lot to get much improvement for £1,000-1,500.

The only column speaker worth considering is the RCF Evox 12. A single is slightly above your complete budget, but there's nothing wrong with running a single speaker for many situiations.

Otherwise, look at a decent 10" point source with an optional sub. I have some RCF ART 710s, which produce prodigious output - and quite decent bottom end too. A pair of these you could pick up for around £750. Spend the rest on a decent sub, poles & bags.

Plenty of other decent options exist, too, of course.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby bigster » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:49 am

That's really valuable advice. Thank you. The RCF stuff looks pleasantly uncomplicated and decent quality. For some smaller venues I imagine the ART 710s (or whatever) would probably work by themselves too.

If I were to buy a pair, do you recommend adding a sub (I think a single one would do us...) made by RCF also? The most affordable I see (702 AS II 12") is around £700 - with satellite speakers still in budget but obviously quite a whack. Any obvious disadvantage of going for something like a dB Technologies SUB 612 or 615 or is that a step down in quality?
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby DanR » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:21 pm

Hi
Shame that your current system isn’t quiet up to the job.
There’s a compromise though with sound quality and SPL with so called budget systems.

RCF is a good suggestion.
A pair of HD12a MKiv’s would be within budget. No sub needed and very nice sound.
The Art 710’s with a 702 AS ii sub would be at the top end of your budget but would be a compact, efficient system.
For just a little more there’s the HD10 mkiv for full range 10s. Other than appearance, I’m not sure there’s much in it between the Art 7 series and HD line.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby DanR » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:44 pm

bigster wrote:Any obvious disadvantage of going for something like a dB Technologies SUB 612 or 615 or is that a step down in quality?

Similar specs. The 702 is around 2kg lighter that the Sub 612.
It really is small. Our bass player has a a HD10 / 702 as ii system that we sometimes use.
The Sub 612 is a fair bit cheaper than the 702 and looks good value but I’d keep the system RCF.
The subs would be tuned to work with same brand tops.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby bigster » Mon Jul 01, 2019 1:57 pm

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I've learnt a lot. In the end I've settled on a pair of RCF HD12s - it looks like they could be perfect even without a sub for the majority of smaller gigs. Looking forward to trying them.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby DanR » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:23 pm

bigster wrote:Thanks for all the advice everyone. I've learnt a lot. In the end I've settled on a pair of RCF HD12s - it looks like they could be perfect even without a sub for the majority of smaller gigs. Looking forward to trying them.

Good choice, I have a pair of the originals. Bags of headroom and the sound quality is consistent even at high levels.
Would do well for larger gigs too depending on bass levels required.
Enjoy :)
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby AlecSp » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:15 am

The HD12s should do you fine.

Well priced, but great performers - you should notice night & day compared with your current system. Obviously, they're bigger and heavier than 10" cabs, but that's the endless compromise we have to make decisions on.

See what you think when you get them, but you really may decide that you don't need subs. If you do, however, please resist the urge to go cheap and cheerful, as you'll be wasting your money - you need to ensure that you get something that can keep up with your tops.

And, of course, before anyone else makes the point - plenty of other speaker manufacters exist and play at this level & price point. In the end you have to make a decision and go for one.

Do come back when you've played with them and let us know what you think.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby DanR » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:49 pm

AlecSp wrote:Obviously, they're bigger and heavier than 10" cabs, but that's the endless compromise we have to make decisions on.

And, of course, before anyone else makes the point - plenty of other speaker manufacters exist and play at this level & price point. In the end you have to make a decision and go for one.


Yes, there is the size but this should hopefully do away with the need for a sub.
The top handle is useful for ease of lifting and they're quite light really for an active 12" speaker.
I did consider the Yamaha DXR12 and I already have a pair of the 10s.
The 12 is more compact but a little heavier than the HD12. Also side handles only.
Useful mixer on the rear but not really needed for FOH use only.
The QSC K12 was the most expensive option. All excellent speakers and you can't go wrong really with any of them at this price level.
I thought that the RCF HD12 had the edge on HF clarity though.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:55 pm

Yup, all the above. I went for QSC K12s as they sounded better for acoustic music to me but all are good speakers (I also have Yamaha DXR10 too). Buy a single, decent 15" sub if you decide you need one (worth going for the same range).
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby bigster » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:01 pm

I got the HD12a Mk4 pair delivered today and have had an hour or so of playing various material through them (though only in a small space as yet). Yep - totally different animal to the old column PA. Treble extension and general clarity/transparency are vastly better - not so far off a hi-fi presentation but with about a million times more welly. Somehow they seem to get even better when you turn them up too. The physical size is good - they're pretty hefty but are still easily moved and managed.

I think most small to medium rooms are going to be fine for me with just these full range tops, and no sub. I still might consider using a single sub for a really spacious stage. We'll look at that in due course (and when the bank account has recovered)...
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:26 pm

Bear in mind when you get to big rooms many will have a FOH rig in place or will hire in for each gig. If you only need to provide the PA occasionally then hire a sub to supplement your own rig and charge accordingly.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby BigRedX » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:12 pm

IMO nearly all venues (no matter what size) putting on artists playing original music have their own PA system and in-house engineer, so it always amazes me when bands start asking about buying their own PA.

Back in the 80s when I first started gigging owning a suitable PA would have been a worthwhile investment (had any of the bands I was in at the time been able to afford one after buying out actual instruments and personal amplification). However these days IME it just doesn't seem worth the expense. I think in the last 10 years, which is about 600-700 gigs I can think of only a handful of occasions where the PA hasn't been already supplied by the venue.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby bigster » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:29 pm

For us it varies. When we play in concert halls and theatres there's always house PA and an engineer, and my gosh I'm happy to use them. But the majority of concerts we seem to be getting are in churches, art galleries, warehouse spaces etc. All of those bookings have been dependent on being self-sufficient with PA, hence me sinking some money into it.

When I looked into it at the beginning of this project, I calculated it'd be a relatively small number of hires before I might as well have just bought outright. I personally prefer using my own gear too, with known provenance, and which we can use for rehearsals. In the end I think it depends what sort of act it is we're all involved with, and the kinds of venues we play in. Certainly these RCFs I've ended up with, thanks to advice in this thread, are not cheap... but blimey they seem good and flexible enough to keep me going for this and other projects for years to come. The other factor for me is that with the synth setup the mix is very tightly controlled and 100% repeatable - we don't actually need a mix engineer.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jul 02, 2019 5:23 pm

I have had my own PA system for many years as the small venues I tend to play don't have a house system. We are a typical pub band however so that is the norm. But I do agree that there are benefits to being self contained, owning and running your own system, in my case there is a small but useful income to be made working for other bands and events which at least allows me to have a significantly nicer system than would otherwise be the case.

Big venues and small festivals, when we are lucky enough to get them, we are glad to use the house system and engineer.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby BigRedX » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:02 am

If you are playing a lot of venues that rely on you having your own PA and you've already worked out that it is going to be cost effective, then you've made the right decision.

I have to say that one of the reasons that I quit my covers band was the extra hassle and setup time involved in wrangling our own PA (and lights) against turning up at a venue where the resident PA engineer was all set up and ready to mic up our gear as soon as we had it out of the van and on the stage.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:17 am

... and just because a venue has its own system it doesn't necessarily mean that it's any good... ;)

... and if the venue or promoter offers to hire-in be very careful. Smaller venues or naive promoters will maybe go for the cheapest options with resultant duff gear, duff engineer or both. A very specific equipment rider is useful in such circumstances.
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Re: Advice on portable (stereo) PA for synth band?

Postby AlecSp » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:32 am

bigster wrote:I got the HD12a Mk4 pair delivered today and have had an hour or so of playing various material through them (though only in a small space as yet). Yep - totally different animal to the old column PA. Treble extension and general clarity/transparency are vastly better - not so far off a hi-fi presentation but with about a million times more welly. Somehow they seem to get even better when you turn them up too. The physical size is good - they're pretty hefty but are still easily moved and managed.

I think most small to medium rooms are going to be fine for me with just these full range tops, and no sub. I still might consider using a single sub for a really spacious stage. We'll look at that in due course (and when the bank account has recovered)...

Ace - and much quicker than I'd expected for the feedback. I had a feeling that you'd find the results pretty much like that. A night and day comparison with your previous system, and for little more cost, if I read rightly - just unfortunate that you've spent on the first system as a learning exercise - there's no such thing as a good cheap PA.

And pleased to hear that you feel the low end response is good enough that you can hold off on a sub - I had a feeling that would happen. A good sub will make it sound better, but you might soon get tired of the excess size & weight (and cost), when just the tops are "good enough".

A happy poster, and a happy outcome...
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