Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Powered Speakers

A little while ago my business partner and I invested in some small powered speakers. For me it was part of a departure from big clunky gear. I suffered a serious back injury at the hands of a big Soundcraft console and resolved while I was recovering from surgery to look into smaller stuff. On his end he was looking for a couple small pieces to add for that occasional small pole speaker gig or to add a wedge in a pinch. I wound up with QSC K-10s and he got some EVs based on a 15" un-powered model. I'll do another post at some point with all the specs and our thoughts on both boxes. Another friend who's into DJ and karaoke work is looking at either Behringer or Seismic Audio powered boxes so I may just wait for him to get his and then do a three way look at what we've got on hand. At present we've rolled them out for a few things like small bar bands and community theatre, but not enough to really give a full review.

Part of the reason I wanted some little powered boxes was for the small scale jobs I took on fairly regularly. When a little charity event or a solo performer needed a little help, I was stuck bringing out a rack and some cabs, a desk and a rack of outboard just to make it happen. And while it was sometimes nice to make an extra hundred bucks on a Saturday afternoon, a lot of times it was pro bono work so I wanted to make it as easy as I could on myself.

At first I settled on an eight channel powered mixer and I would use my drum fills for mains and a couple wedges if I needed them. But I still found that I wanted processing and sometimes bass. That meant bringing out an abridged FOH setup and some powered subs. Not quite convenient but it got me by for a couple years. Then QSC came out with the K and KW series boxes. Now there were affordable two and three way cabs on the market that could sit on poles, work as wedges, had 1000 watts in them and sounded like angels made em.

While the Lortabs were hard at work on my spine I got to day dreaming about ditching the van and trailer for a system that would fit in a mini van and still pack 8000 watts FOH power plus a few kilowatts on the wedges. Once I started getting my hands on stuff though I started to revise my plan. The K-10s were the original basis and I thought I would just get a dozen or so and use them all around. After trying a few out I found that they would work all right as mains in a tiny bar, but for anything larger it was going to be a stretch. Same for wedges. I'm planning now on using single K-10s for wedges and on larger stages setting them up in pairs at each position, but not stereo. One for instruments and one for vocals. With a little digital mixer like the Presonus Studio Live 24 or the new Behringer X32, you've got a multitude of outputs and copious amounts of processing so it's totally doable.

For the fronts I had planned on four of the KW subs which are a single ported 18" at 1000 watts. But now I'm starting to look into other brands because with the stuff I tend to do, absolutely pristine lows aren't as critical. They just need to be there more often than not. For the tops I've still got my eye on QSCs but now it's the KW-122s which are a wood box (not plastic like the K series) and they're a little more present in the mids and low mids. Those over some powered subs should get me pretty far. And once it gets to be more than I can handle, my partner always has a pair of trailers full of the big gun traditional "racks and stacks" systems.

I didn't intend for this post to turn into a diary entry about my personal system development but there you go. Hopefully it gives you a little bit of insight on what's possible with what's out there. As I said at the top I'll be coming back with some review type posts with some more specific info about a handful of different boxes. Till then my Brethren of the Knob and Fader.

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