Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

Glenn Adams

Junior
Feb 3, 2014
385
4
18
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

My 2 cents - I would say that the 15" tops in the same model line do not go much lower than the 12" model from any manufacture. There are some dual 15 inch designs out there.
The cabinet volume is not large enough to port too low. If it is Acoustic or voice only reinforcement they will do fine. Other than that having a real sub helps. Less stress, lets you use a 12" box for a smaller truck pack, lighter to move.... 12, 15, 18's in a much larger box can go much lower, but are not as easy to balance on a stick.
 

Andre Aklian

Freshman
Jan 24, 2015
10
0
0
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

Run like hell from the Presonus. Seriously.

Now let's review - you don't have enough money for 2 12" tops and a sub, and the 12" tops won't do what you want without the sub. You're skeptical of 15" because of weight, but haven't bothered to see what any of the suggested models weigh.

You've got your mind made up, so what's the question?

I've done research and compared weights on many different speaker models. Many of the 15" speakers weight the SAME as our current passive 15's. Honestly, I consider that a vast improvement right there! I'm just trying to see if we can go lighter and better. The 12's weights are all from 32 lbs to 42 lbs or so, which sounds nicer. I've picked up speakers at guitar center and compared how they felt as well.

I really do appreciate everyone's insight and tips. I know I can tend to run circles around myself and always come back to the same arguments. I'm just looking for all of your ideas and definitely like the feedback.

I would go used, but I think the bandmates would rather not. I think we could go used on a mixer if it were analog, but less so if it were digital. Still, there are a lot of good options out there!
 

Steve Garris

Freshman
Mar 29, 2012
46
0
0
Seattle, WA
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

Regarding the 12 vs 15, you'll hear a lot of opinions on this - all valid.

I set up a JBL PRX 615's along side a Yamaha DSR112 - both reputable powered boxes. The JBL's are noticably lighter than the 12" Yamaha's BTW, even though the spec's say the Yamaha's are only 3 lbs heavier. After listening to loud recorded music (mp3), I found the JBL's sounded a little better to my ears. The additional bottom end was noticeable. I felt the Yamaha's had to be tamed down a bit in the high end. I basically got them sounding about the same, and the JBL was mostly flat while the Yamaha had some EQ'ing.

I've been using my PRX system for about 2 years now, pushing it to the limit every night with a Hair Metal rock band. I really prefer the 15's, and I run them over 18" xlf sub's.

OTOH, the 12" Yamaha's are crystal clear, and due to their excellent wedge angle they make kick-ass monitors.
 

Andre Aklian

Freshman
Jan 24, 2015
10
0
0
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

One thing I keep thinking about is, since the bassist has his own rig with an 18 and a 2x10, how much is a sub needed? I know the kick drum produces lows and would primarily go through the subs, but how much of the guitar and vocal sound would go through them? Or, should we be running the bass through the PA as well? Seems like overkill for the places we play, unless we get shows at larger venues.

Dre
 

Scott Bolt

Junior
Mar 4, 2013
386
0
0
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

One thing I keep thinking about is, since the bassist has his own rig with an 18 and a 2x10, how much is a sub needed? I know the kick drum produces lows and would primarily go through the subs, but how much of the guitar and vocal sound would go through them? Or, should we be running the bass through the PA as well? Seems like overkill for the places we play, unless we get shows at larger venues.

Dre

Running your bass through the PA allows someone to use the mixer to actually ..... well, mix. If the bass is going out only through the bass player's speakers, you can't mix him with the mixer. Furthermore, having the volume of a bass cab on stage puts LOTS of bass bleed into any microphones on stage (vocal mic's, drum mic's, etc). There are things you can do to help with this, but it fundamentally makes your stage louder.

My personal opinion is that no bass player needs an 18" speaker. They just make mudd. In fact, I much prefer a good bass DI to any bass cab for gigging.

While I have managed to put bass through a 12" top (DSR112's) and get pretty good results (but peaking the limiters all night), the kick really needs subs.

Putting everything into the PA isn't about making things louder, it is about making everything sound better and getting your band to sound better overall. In fact, turning down all the amps on stage, and letting the PA do the work for the FOH sound is a much better way to make your band sound great than just running amps on stage and using the PA for vocals only..... for lots of reasons.

Having said all that, I have done some good sounding gigs by micing the kick and vocals only with the guitars and bass amp providing their own volume from stage. This works best if you have band members that listen to you when you tell them that they are too loud (I have rarely had to tell a band member to be louder ;) ).

Micing the kick is absolutely necessary in my book, and the kick needs subs .... and real men have subs :)
 

Andre Aklian

Freshman
Jan 24, 2015
10
0
0
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

That refers to delving too deep and caring too much about the finer points of high end, high quality equipment, audio equipment, guitars, amps, etc. to the point where it is not practically necessary and may give off a condescending tone to others. Compared to a Wine connoisseur who "sniffs the cork" to tell how high quality a certain bottle of wine may be.


Here's another question I was thinking. When we have our money ready, my bandmates and I will be going to stores and listening to the speakers we have in mind to really compare the sound and make an informed decision. What's the best way to test the speakers out? I can record a Wave file of my band's live performance through our current mixer. Should I play that audio back through the speakers at higher volumes and see how it sounds, or will they play sample music? Would some places allow my band to bring in some gear, or use some store gear to simulate a live show and play a couple of songs to compare the sound of the setup?


Dre
 

Glenn Adams

Junior
Feb 3, 2014
385
4
18
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

audio cork sniffery - ahh - take it all in. Vintage 12's with a fresh bouquet of ribbon drivers on top, however just a bit woody. I prefer the port.
 

Douglas R. Allen

Sophomore
Jan 11, 2011
269
12
18
Maine USA
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

That refers to delving too deep and caring too much about the finer points of high end, high quality equipment, audio equipment, guitars, amps, etc. to the point where it is not practically necessary and may give off a condescending tone to others. Compared to a Wine connoisseur who "sniffs the cork" to tell how high quality a certain bottle of wine may be.


Here's another question I was thinking. When we have our money ready, my bandmates and I will be going to stores and listening to the speakers we have in mind to really compare the sound and make an informed decision. What's the best way to test the speakers out? I can record a Wave file of my band's live performance through our current mixer. Should I play that audio back through the speakers at higher volumes and see how it sounds, or will they play sample music? Would some places allow my band to bring in some gear, or use some store gear to simulate a live show and play a couple of songs to compare the sound of the setup?


Dre

When comparing speakers make sure you bring high quality recordings that you have listened to for years and have a good base line as to how they should sound. Next make SURE there is no eq being used anywhere ( or hidden subwoofer...) used in the testing. Some powered speakers have different eq curves or speaker location settings that may sway your judgement even if in the other settings they sound better. Look for Flat settings to start. Compare 2 speakers. Pick the best. Set it aside and try 2 more. Set the best aside and compare it to the best of the first testing. Repeat until you find the best sounding one in your budget. Remember not to switch to quickly between speakers as you may not like the lowest bottom of one speaker but miss how the vocal / high end is better than all the rest.
Last try to setup a demo time. Don't go in at noon on a Saturday and expect to get the time you need to give the speakers a good listen in a full room of customers . Also don't go in thinking you have to buy a speaker "That Day". It may hurry you into making a rash purchase. Take your time. You may have to live with the speakers for a few years....

Douglas R. Allen
 
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

My thoughts:
"........When we have our money ready, my bandmates and I will be going to stores and listening to the speakers we have in mind to really compare the sound and make an informed decision......."

I have gone to stores over the years to demo gear and to be truthful I feel that it was a waste of time for me. Does a music store's acoustics compare to a club/venue's? I liken visiting a music store to demo PA equipment to going to a large chain-store (pick one) to purchase a new television: you've got a whole wall of them to compare but one (or two) TV's pictures are clearly better than the rest....they MUST be better, right? Or, are the settings (contrast, brightness, etc.) on the other TV's adjusted to make the other sets less appealing....who's to know? I am no TV expert.

My advise would be to go to local club/venue performances and listen to what others are using. Maybe you should take a road trip to the closest major city for a weekend and visit some venues' performances. Try to pick venues with bands that have a similar style/instrumentation as your group. Give the gear a listen and decide for yourself...

I myself, settled on the speakers that I currently use by listening to several rigs (at performances) that sounded great. I did this over a period of years - I did not take a salesman's recommendation but rather I demo'd them "on the gig", gigs that I wanted to do!

FWIW: A little kick plus one OH for the drummer (just for texture) in the mix should be all that is needed for instruments in small-med club situations as long as the guitars/keys/bass play like a band, not individual ho-ha's. A couple of 12's would be fine IMO. One of the most successful bands I ever played in '85-'95 used 12" cabs on sticks with a powered mixer and one monitor. No one overplayed, the vocals were always "on top" (the guitarist did [at first] play rather loud. After a while the drummer and I started putting the guitarist's amp on a coffee table right behind his head - problem solved!)

If you find out what other bands in your area are using for PA gear (and like the results) if you purchase similar gear you may be able to cross-rent gear to supplement your rig for larger events.

Mike M
 

Gary Miller

Freshman
Jan 31, 2015
2
0
0
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

That refers to delving too deep and caring too much about the finer points of high end, high quality equipment, audio equipment, guitars, amps, etc. to the point where it is not practically necessary and may give off a condescending tone to others. Compared to a Wine connoisseur who "sniffs the cork" to tell how high quality a certain bottle of wine may be.


Dre

Ah. That's interesting. That's what I thought but I wanted to make sure. Sorry, this is off topic and doesn't contribute to your thread but every time I open a bottle of wine I sniff the cork. Why? Because I like the way it smells. I hope this helps.


G
 

Scott Bolt

Junior
Mar 4, 2013
386
0
0
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

That refers to delving too deep and caring too much about the finer points of high end, high quality equipment, audio equipment, guitars, amps, etc. to the point where it is not practically necessary and may give off a condescending tone to others. Compared to a Wine connoisseur who "sniffs the cork" to tell how high quality a certain bottle of wine may be.


Here's another question I was thinking. When we have our money ready, my bandmates and I will be going to stores and listening to the speakers we have in mind to really compare the sound and make an informed decision. What's the best way to test the speakers out? I can record a Wave file of my band's live performance through our current mixer. Should I play that audio back through the speakers at higher volumes and see how it sounds, or will they play sample music? Would some places allow my band to bring in some gear, or use some store gear to simulate a live show and play a couple of songs to compare the sound of the setup?


Dre

I went through this exersize a few years ago and did the following:

  1. Brought high quality recordings of 2 different kinds of music. The first was high impact rock with good kick and bass definition in it, the second was airy vocals (Nora Jones :) ).
  2. I brought my microphone (ND767a) and my guitar (Taylor).
  3. For the music, I put the music into 2 channels of a mixer at the store.
  4. I put the first set of tops on line, then adjusted the channel EQ to the best sound I could get.
  5. I then put the second set of tops on line and adjusted the other channel I had the music going into (same signal, just split).
  6. I played the music and alternated between the two speakers and two channels respectively tweaking as I went.
  7. After this, I put my guitar and vocal into a pair of channels and tweaked each as good as possible through each set of speakers. Unfortunately, when I did this, there wasn't an easy way to switch channel eq's in and out like there is today (was using the stores 16.4.2 at the time), so I didn't get as good an A/B on this live setup.
  8. Since my main purpose of these speakers was to use above subs, the music tests were conducted with and without subs (XLF's).

I played the music at moderate volume, and as high a volume as I could stand in that room.

The reason I tested like this was that I wanted to make sure that it wasn't just the default voicing that I liked, but rather the entire capability of the speaker after tweaking.

To me, this is the best way, short of using the speakers in your OWN live venue, to test a speaker. I disagree with the other post recommending you hear other bands play on some set of speakers and decide based on that. There are so many variables in that equation that it is hard to imagine a much less effective approach.

For me, it is about how good you can make a speaker sound, not how good it sounds without any eq. It is also important how the speaker behaves at higher volumes (for me). Some speakers that sound great at lower volume, get ugly when pushed harder .... while others thrive when pushed.
 

Per Søvik

Graduate Student
Jan 31, 2012
1,881
0
36
61
Norway
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

Some speakers that sound great at lower volume, get ugly when pushed harder .... while others thrive when pushed.

... and that is one of the main problems with in-store testing, or any testing with limitations for that matter. The only test of any value to me is a test where I'm allowed to hit the limiters with rock music (if ZZ Top - Gimme all your lovin' sounds bad, the speakers are useless :razz: ) and explore what clean vocals at a realistic live volume sounds like (Streisand, Sissel Kyrkjebø)
 

Scott Bolt

Junior
Mar 4, 2013
386
0
0
Re: Upgrading our PA System - 12s or 15s, and are subs necessary?

... and that is one of the main problems with in-store testing, or any testing with limitations for that matter. The only test of any value to me is a test where I'm allowed to hit the limiters with rock music (if ZZ Top - Gimme all your lovin' sounds bad, the speakers are useless :razz: ) and explore what clean vocals at a realistic live volume sounds like (Streisand, Sissel Kyrkjebø)

Yep. It is impossible to be in a small room with the speakers turned up to clip (for the speakers in the class we are talking about). You feel like you are being physically assaulted!
 

Charles Mott

New member
Jul 22, 2021
2
0
1
59
Binghamton, NY
I have 2 EV 15 ZLX speakers and some relatively inexpensive used alto monitors. If I wanted to invest later in 2 12s and 2 subs the zlxs would stick around as monitors and I wouldnt take that much of a loss selling off ( or even keeping) the Altos
Meanwhile in theory I have the low end covered and can mic the kick and maybe even the bass through the 15s. And a small powered board.
 

Tim McCulloch

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
3,011
49
48
Wichita KS USA
I have 2 EV 15 ZLX speakers and some relatively inexpensive used alto monitors. If I wanted to invest later in 2 12s and 2 subs the zlxs would stick around as monitors and I wouldnt take that much of a loss selling off ( or even keeping) the Altos
Meanwhile in theory I have the low end covered and can mic the kick and maybe even the bass through the 15s. And a small powered board.
You do know you replied to a thread that is 6 years old?