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Recommendations: using a 12" 2-way in place of sub in small venues?

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Recommendations: using a 12" 2-way in place of sub in small venues?

Postby AD49 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 1:53 am

At the risk of heresy here's my dilemma... I'm thinking to use a 2-way of some size as a 'fill' to support some very nice but small 8" tops instead of a sub.

An acoustic/vocal duo happily using EVZXA1 8" tops became a trio by adding a stunning electric lead/slide player. Time passes and we now take turns playing bass and use a MIDI 'drum' device that can deliver WAV output that can include bass and keys. Problem is there seems to be little advantage in using a sub. We have tried the EVZX (12"), Seismic Audio(10") and Turbosound (12"). I hear very little to complement the tops no matter how I cable it.

Most weeks we play small pubs (50 people). When we play larger outdoor events we use QSCs and a sub. In the pubs a bass amp carries the room and we DI into the mixer. We also bring the lead guitar amp in with a mic. The drum (machine) goes through the mixer as well. We HPF vocals and acoustic guitars on the board and roll off the tops with their built-in HPF.

It seems for cost and weight it would make sense to pickup a 12" 2-way and feed drum and bass to it via a mixer AUX output (no HPF) to fill in the bottom. The same signals will be feed to the tops but rolled off.

We do an array of classic rock and originals so no need to deafen anyone or move them physically as Wet Willie once put it “nobody’s hearing what you play, they’re too busy drinking anyway”. Any comments are very welcome.
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Re: Recommendations: using a 12" 2-way in place of sub in small venues?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:37 am

It's an unconventional way to do it but I've seen it work* Do you already have the 12"+H cab? If so just give it a try, I'd be inclined to let the top do vox and acoustic guitars, use the 12" for the drums and tracks box and let the electric guitar and bass take care of themselves but experiment is the key. See if you can get to the next gig during a quiet time and set up early, or find a local rehearsal room for hire to try it out.

* On a large pub gig a few years ago George Borowski set up two pretty shonky old PA systems and ran the drums (and, IIRC, bass) through one and the rest of the band through the other. It sounded much better than you would expect (but George does have excellent ears, well developed sound engineering skills and many years of experience).
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Re: Recommendations: using a 12" 2-way in place of sub in small venues?

Postby shufflebeat » Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:46 am

Sam Spoons wrote: ...George does have excellent ears,

And lovely hair.

There is something to be said for separating the sources to improve clarity, I've seen it best in situations where players use individual Bose columns for instance and some of that would be evident in a multi-system setup.

In effect though we're getting close to the MIDI player (via 12") just taking the place of an acoustic drumkit so not really breaking any established principles.
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Re: Recommendations: using a 12" 2-way in place of sub in small venues?

Postby AD49 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:09 pm

Very encouraging so far then. It appears I haven't completely overlooked the obvious faults in this idea. I realize I'm giving away the low end (bass fundamentals below 100 Hz etc) but in most equipment not specific to bass that is already rolling away. The goal is to blend what we put out and clearly HPF 8" tops leave a big hole. An added advantage of running everything back through the board is we capture a stereo recording from the monitor outs using the set-and-forget method (no sound people). Sometimes the balances leave something to be desired but it often works and can be used as the audio for the odd video effort.

Space and securing gigs is not easy unless doing a solo. I started using the Singular Sound Beat Buddy a few years ago and it is addicting. We not only save space of having a real drummer but so far Shaemus (in honor of our last real live drummer) is pretty reliable.

Any recommendations on which 2-way I should use? Thinking one might better than another at handling mids to lows even if sacrificing clarity in the highs? Oh and costing only a few $100USD used?
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Re: Recommendations: using a 12" 2-way in place of sub in small venues?

Postby Wonks » Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:46 pm

Modern 8" tops can do a pretty good job at reproducing bass. You'll never get anything ground-shaking from them, but there is probably a lot less missing at the low end than you think, especially when you've found a sub doesn't add much to the sound.
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Re: Recommendations: using a 12" 2-way in place of sub in small venues?

Postby AD49 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:48 pm

Wonks wrote:Modern 8" tops can do a pretty good job at reproducing bass. You'll never get anything ground-shaking from them, but there is probably a lot less missing at the low end than you think, especially when you've found a sub doesn't add much to the sound.

Experience tells me that is true at least with these ZXA1 over the past 7 or 8 years. I have replaced the amp in one which may have been from driving them full range too hard at times - or just random failure. I doubt in the settings I'm playing I could tell if they are rolling up as they get pushed but I think this idea of mine will at least save me from damaging them.

I see used Altos, EV ZLX and other 12" for <$300...or the cost of replacing another amp in a (now) $600 speaker plus giving back a bit more bottom than a pair of 8s. Yamaha DBR12 and EV ELX are a bit higher priced. Again I'm not planning to use the 12" as a main just for 'fill'.
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