Alto’s new TX range is portable, compact and cost‑effective. What’s not to like?
Despite the popularity of mini line‑array systems for small venues, there’s still a healthy market for the more conventional box‑style speaker. That’s an area Alto have much experience in, having produced a number of affordable point‑source speakers over the years that perform surprisingly well for their price. Their new TX range is designed in the US but manufactured ‘offshore’, and we’re informed that it is underpinned by some of the technology used in the company’s more costly TS3 series. The TX range goes from an 8‑inch model, via 10‑ and 12‑inch designs, up to a 15‑inch version. I chose the 10‑inch TX310 for this review, as it is well‑suited to smaller venues, is adequately loud with a reasonably wide frequency response, and is easily portable.
As is usual for this type of speaker, the TX310 is a ported, bi‑amplified two‑way system, in this case pairing its long‑excursion woofer with a 1.5‑inch voice coil alongside a one‑inch titanium compression driver tweeter, crossing over at 2.5kHz. The tweeter is loaded by a full‑width horn, producing a horizontal dispersion of 90 degrees and a vertical dispersion of 60 degrees.
Moulded from polypropylene, the cabinet has rubber feet, a top carry handle and a 36mm pole‑mount socket in the base. Its trapezoidal shape enables it to double up as a wedge monitor when placed on its side. The cabinet measures 462 x 284 x 279 mm, and has a very manageable weight of 6.1kg. A perforated steel grille protects both drivers.
Power comes from Class‑D amplifiers rated at 350 Watts peak or 175 Watts continuous, and the overall system has a specified frequency response of 75Hz to 20kHz at the ‑3dB points. Protection is provided by a built‑in analogue limiter and additional thermal overload protection circuitry. Two LEDs indicate power and the presence of signal/clipping, while a rotary control adjusts the input gain, which offers enough range to cater to both line‑level and mic‑level sources. There’s also a power LED on the front panel. The maximum SPL for a single speaker is specified as 117dB at a distance of one metre, which although not massive, should be adequate for many types of small venue applications including solo artists, duos and bands without loud drum kits. The speakers are suitable for both vocals and instruments such as guitar, though you’d need the larger models and/or an additional subwoofer if planning to put bass or drums through the PA.
With a little mixer EQ you can get a very workable vocal sound out of these speakers, and a pair will provide adequate volume for smaller venues...
On the rear panel is the usual IEC power inlet and power switch, XLR audio input, and an XLR link output for feeding the input signal to another active speaker. There are no EQ settings or mixing facilities, but you can plug a dynamic microphone directly into the speaker’s input.
Tapping on the case reveals some panel resonances, which is not uncommon with moulded speaker enclosures, and this is most likely a contributing factor to the lower‑midrange sound coloration I heard when playing full‑range material through the TX310. I got the impression that the speaker had been voiced to give a good account of the low end and to deliver a crisp treble, but at the expense of some midrange clarity. Some low‑mid cut centred around 200Hz cleaned this up to a useful degree, especially in a vocal PA setting, as it helped tame some of that unwanted boxiness. There’s also a useful amount of mic gain if you plug a mic directly into the XLR input, which is always good to know for those ‘broken mixer’ emergencies or for basic announcement work, though there’s no opportunity to add EQ or effects if you work that way.
Any criticism of this speaker needs to be seen in the context of its cost — and the TX310 most definitely falls into the entry‑level price bracket. That being the case, it isn’t really surprising that it doesn’t sound as ‘hi‑fi’ as a decent mini line array and that its midrange is perhaps less precise, but with a little mixer EQ you can get a very workable vocal sound out of these speakers, and a pair will provide adequate volume for smaller venues, where the feedback threshold will probably place a limit on volume before the power of the speaker does. Their light weight will make them a lot of friends too, so for performers on a tight budget using their own transport, the TX310s have a lot to offer.
A small but effective PA solution, the TX310 is ideal for mobile bands and musicians on a budget.