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Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

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Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 1:58 am
by Jesstifiable
Hello! I've been a musician for a long time as a serious hobby and want to delve into more performance around my small home town. My idea is to just play Piano (Yamaha DGX 660) and acoustic guitar (acoustic/electric) and sing. I don't plan on playing anything bigger than say a small hall where a wedding might take place. Mostly playing small bars. I figure if I get anymore famous than that they'll provide a sound system lol, anyway!

I already own a Behringer Xenyx 1204USB Mixer https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00871VO5Y/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

And I wasn't sure if I could just get some active speakers and plug em into my mixer or if I need an amp (but isn't that why you get active speakers?) lol, I was thinking of just getting a kit like the Harbinger VARI 2300 Series Powered Speakers from Musician's Friend https://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/harbinger-vari-2300-series-powered-speakers-package-with-speaker-stands/l73519000001000

I'll probably look at Sweetwater too once I'm ready to buy. So question one, are two active speakers all I need with my mixer?

My second question is what size speakers should I get? I almost feel like 12 would be overkill but people seem to like it super loud when I go to the bars too with a whole band lol. But I suppose I don't have to crank them to 11 either to play some elton john, billy joel and Ben Folds. Although Ben Folds would crank it lol. Probably end up with 12's but wanted to hear some opinions. Thanks everyone!

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 5:17 am
by blinddrew
Hi Jesstifiable, welcome to the forum. :)
You're right that if you have active speakers you don't need an amp. You just take the outputs from your mixer and route them to the speakers.
I've never heard (or heard of!) the Harbinger speakers you list so won't comment on them specifically but I can give you a couple of general pointers about PA speakers.
Firstly speaker size is not just about power, it's also about how well the speaker will reproduce different areas of the frequency spectrum. So whilst a set of 15" speakers will do a nice job of getting your trousers flapping with a bit of EDM, they don't tend to be as good at reproducing the frequencies that vocals occupy. A set of 10" drivers will tend to give you better mid-range definition and clarity - which is critical if you're doing vocal-led pieces like the ones you mention in your examples.
12" are generally very widely available because they provide a comfortable middle ground between being able to reproduce a full band sound and still getting an articulate mid-range.
Secondly, all PA speakers are not created equal. And not all specs tell you the true story. Generally it's safe to ignore any power figures quoted as they're either made up, using spurious definitions, irrelevant or all three. :) Look for an SPL figure.
Here it's important to know what you're looking at with dB figures. Apologies if I'm teaching you to suck eggs, but dB is a logarithmic scale so, roughly, twice the power gives you a 3dB increase, double that again for another 3dB. But because we perceive volume a bit differently you need around 10 times the power for it to sound twice as loud.
Bringing that back to the point in question, a speaker that's pushing out 129dB is going to sound about 60% louder than one giving out 123dB.
For this reason it's often worth looking at a single, good quality speaker (Yamaha are frequently recommended round here) rather than a pair of cheaper (but actually quieter) ones.
The other thing to thing about though is how you're going to hear yourself. So the advantage to buying a pair of speakers is you can have one on the floor pointing back at yourself for monitoring. But that can be adding a lot of bulk into your kit set up, especially if you're jammed into the corner of a small bar or reception. So I'd consider using a small 'personal monitor' for that.
Finally, I'll just refer you to the text in my signature and say that if any of the smarter people come along soon and contradict me, listen to them and ignore me. :)

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 7:30 am
by Wonks
An increase of 6dB in SPL is an actual doubling of volume though, and this will sound noticeably louder.

How we hear the change is subjective, and will very with the actual volume level as well. I know I certainly couldn't accurately tell if a sound was 80%, 100% or 120% louder, just a lot louder, so best to stick to considering the SPL levels.

The Harbinger V3212 can produce a peak SPL of 126dB. Whilst loud, this is far from a class leading output. But then again, these are budget speakers. For comparison, the Alto TS312 produces a peak SPL of 131dB, and don't cost that much more. These are also budget speakers but do provide more for your money and have a decent sound.

Having had a set of Yamaha DXR10s, I would say that the Yamaha DXR range is probably my baseline for good quality sound at a relatively affordable cost. I know it's pretty much impossible to test speakers out at the moment, but they aren't things you should buy without hearing them yourself or have been used by people whos judgement you trust. Online reviews of cheap kit are generally written by people with little experience of decent equipment.

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 9:02 am
by Mike Stranks
Welcome! :thumbup:

Wise words thus far...

I've owned and used both Alto TS speakers and Yamaha DXRs. Different prices - and it shows - but both good value for money.

I'd particularly recommend the DXRs. I actually had the 8" model. Surprisingly powerful and able to reproduce good bass as long as you don't want thump-in-the-chest stuff. And, of course, a bit easier to move around!

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 11:29 am
by blinddrew
Told you smarter people would be along shortly, in my defence, it was stupid o'clock in the morning...

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 11:49 am
by shufflebeat
I'm working on the 27hr clock at the minute, getting later and later on all counts


+1 for the DXR range, I've got the 8"s and the 12"s (gen1) and they are excellent. I had the Alto 10"s and 12"s (gen1), all but one are now dead. I hear the gen2 are better in this regard but I'm not going to be QC guinea pig again.

For the music you describe the DXR8 will do any small bar or corner thereof. The DXR12 would do anything you'll probably need. Budget for good stands and plan your AC regime well. I have a switched 4 gang outlet beside my mixer so I can switch speakers on/off as required without running too far, also avoids ground loop issues.

QSC are also mentioned in dispatches.

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 12:43 pm
by Mike Monte
Good morning:
You'll just need a pair of active speakers.
I have a pair of QSC K8's (original series) that I use for small gigs....they may work well for your application.
I also have one K10 that I use as a monitor wedge when I need an additional mix (in addition to what I usually deploy).

The K10 is louder than a K8 but it is bigger/heavier...which doesn't seem like much....but....at the end of the night (as you're loading-out gear) the added weight/size will matter.

IMO you'd be best to stay away from anything Harbinger. Everyone that I know that has used Harbinger speakers have not been satisfied....plus when they go to sell them (to upgrade to something usable) their resale value is next to nothing.

You'd be best to go Yamaha/QSC or Yorkville (I personally like Yorkville speakers.)

If your plan is to gig-out you may be best to go with a rig as-small-as-possible that can be augmented with additional (similar) rental gear for larger gigs.

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 1:52 pm
by Sam Spoons
Another +1 for Yamaha DXRs here, I have three DXR10's* and they do sound great, they also come with a seven year warrantee. I have a pair of QSC K12's too (and a couple of Alto TS10s but see below*) and like them a lot but in terms of bang for buck I'd say the DXRs were where the sweet spot is.

* One of my Alto's is dead and one of the DXR10's is in for repair, it's outside the seven years unfortunately but, unlike the Alto, I consider it well worth the expense of repairing. TBF the other Alto is soldiering on as keyboard (and vocal when rehearsing) monitor in the studio.

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 3:00 pm
by Wonks
shufflebeat wrote:I hear the gen2 are better in this regard but I'm not going to be QC guinea pig again.
Alto are on gen3 now, wake up at the back! :D

The 3 series came out very shortly after the 2 series, and are generally similar but more powerful (typically 2000W vs 1000W peak). Series 2 (TX range tops and TS range subs) are selling in parallel with the Series 3 (TS range throughout), but at a lower price point.

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 3:44 pm
by shufflebeat
Wonks wrote:
shufflebeat wrote:I hear the gen2 are better in this regard but I'm not going to be QC guinea pig again.
Alto are on gen3 now, wake up at the back! :D

...yes, sir. It wasn't me, sir, it was Spoons!

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 4:08 pm
by Wonks
Detention for Shufflebeat and Spoons.

....As usual.

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2020 7:11 pm
by Sam Spoons
I didn't do it sir it was shufflebeat made me....... :D

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 1:08 am
by Jesstifiable
Wow! Thanks everyone! I have a budget isn't gigantic, so I think I'm gonna get the Alto TS212 for a loud speaker now. I was thinking of JBL too, but from what I was reading the money increase isn't worth it really. But I don't know for sure so I bring it here lol. So now I need a monitor. I can't imagine I need anything huge for it. Something in ear would be pretty nice. Could I just use some nice in ear headphones? Then just a stand for the speaker and cables, wewt!

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 9:03 am
by Mike Stranks
In-ears are good - but do take some getting used to. They can make you feel very disconnected from your audience. There's also a danger of not projecting in the same way and singing softer because you're hearing your own voice so clearly. This leaves the audinec saying. "Eh? What? What was that lyric?" Some musos are never comfortable with them and revert to floor/stand monitors.

In your position - and YMMV - I'd be looking at something like this: https://www.bax-shop.co.uk/floor-monitors/behringer-eurolive-b205d-active-speaker?gclid=CjwKCAjw2a32BRBXEiwAUcugiGTnE6NZpEVNi5U6V5otzsYJ6Zpw0XF9rbe4XEbcZ0sqM7uxz6lrERoCDy4QAvD_BwE First ref I found on Google; I'm not recommending this supplier.

There are plenty of variants of this theme around... you can mount them on a mic-stand and then put the boom/mic on top, making a nice compact monitoring set-up without having to clutter-up the floor.

Re: Question about Mixer/Speakers for Live performance

PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 11:53 pm
by shufflebeat
Sam Spoons wrote:I didn't do it sir it was shufflebeat made me....... :D

Yeah, right.

Remember, snitches get... schnitzel ...or something.