Active Mains Speakers for Small Bar (Vocals + Guitar)

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Smallmouth_Bass, May 30, 2018.

  1. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    So, I have been looking up what is available and researching what might be the best solution for active speaker mains mostly for vocals and electric guitar for a full mid-volume band in a small bar setting. Bass is not going through the mains. Acoustic drums are on their own, although sometimes we mic the bass drum.

    From the reading I have done, it appears line array types of speakers are gaining in popularity for vocals as they have good dispersion and have consistent and clear sound both in front and the back of the venue. However, as just a set of speakers without a sub, there does not seem to be a whole lot of choice (Alto Trouper - 3x 6.5" + tweeter, Fishman 330x - 6x 4" + tweeter, etc...) and the wattage ratings seem to be fairly low. Does having multiple speakers negate the requirement for higher wattage? (they always say, if you want more volume, add more speakers) And they seem to be geared more towards solo acoustic types of setups.

    On the other hand, 12's might be overkill. We've used 8's as mains, but I am not sure they're enough. Are a good set of 10's the happy medium?

    What I am looking for is smallish, lightweight and enough power to project clear vocals (we monitor separately) and add a little guitar (there's an amp on stage) in a small room.

    What do you recommend? What are you using and are you happy with it?
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
  2. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    IMHO, speakers like the Fishman 330X would be good for acoustic guitar duo with voice in a very intimate setting. I don't think these would be great for a full band in a bar, unless you mean a really small place, then they will probably be really nice. I believe their max peak SPL is 113 dB @ 1m.

    The closest thing I have used to what you are describing is a pair of 1st Gen Bose L1s with four B2 bass modules. I mixed full band through this system and it sounded okay but the SPL was extremely limited. Also, the high frequencies had some obvious combo filtering that I did not care for.

    IMHO, a pair of QSC K10.2s or K12.2s would be louder and sound a lot more natural. Compare the QSC K10.2 Continuous SPL 124 dB @ 1m and Peak SPL 130 dB @ 1m to the Fishman. If I intended to add bass drum to the mix, I would want one or more dedicated subs. You might also be interested in the Electro Voice ZXA1 and ZXA1 Sub.

    I have used JBL VRX 932 and similiar DB Tech line array systems with accompanying subs. In comparison to the gear you are considering, these are extremely expensive, and what I would consider entry level pro line arrays. In all actuality, these do not form large enough arrays to function as true line sources over much of the audio's basically marketing BS, although they do sound pretty decent.

    My personal speakers are old EV SX300s and some crappy subs driven by QSC PL and PLX series amps. No plans to get rid of the EVs anytime soon but I would consider buying JBL VRX918S subs.
  3. thekyle55


    Mar 14, 2012
    What's your budget?
  4. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I'd like to keep it in the $1000 range (Canadian), if possible. But if something is heads-and-heels better than the next best thing, I would consider paying a little more. Right now, the Yamaha DBR10 is looking attractive and gets very favourable reviews.

    The QSC K Series appears to be the Rolls-Royce of PA speakers, but the price also reflects that.

    SPL ratings...
    Is it true that to achieve a noticeable difference in volume (3 dB), you have to double the wattage? Is that the spec to verify to know the real performance of the speaker? It seems that most manufacturers tend to post the maximum wattage (peak) and leave the RMS buried in the spec sheets. I am not sure I trust more than 250 Watts RMS through a 10" speaker - not full range anyway.
  5. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011 repeatedly mentioned the Fishman SA330X so I thought they were in your price range. The K10.2 is significantly less...but a pair will put you well over $1,000 Canadian. The Yamaha DBR10 are definitely in your price range and well reviewed. Here's a comparison between the DBR10 and the older K10. Review: Yamaha DBR10 vs QSC K10 as drum monitors - VDrums Forum Read down the thread a bit as the OP adjusts his views later in the thread.

    Yes the relation is double the power for 3dB gain in SPL...but you have to know the efficiency rating you begin with. Obviously there is a huge difference between a speaker that has an efficiency of 94dB at 1watt 1 meter compared to a speaker with an efficiency of 103dB at 1watt 1 meter. Basically the first speaker will need 8 watts to produce an SPL of 103dB where the second speaker only needs 1 watt. Consider the power each needs to produce an SPL of 120dB.

    The dB gain per doubling of power is theoretical. At some point the drivers will start to experience compression.
  6. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    I believe that 3db equates to doubling the perceived volume.

    P.S. you could get a set of hulking old peavey system 1 speakers for only the low low price of $650 here locally. PRICE REDUCED AGAIN!!!! (Nobody wants to buy this crap but what a deal I’ve lowered the price again after posting them for 6 months).
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
  7. Bufalo and ArtechnikA like this.
  8. thekyle55


    Mar 14, 2012
    This is good info. Remember, watts means nothing on its own, and is a number that is usually fudged by manufacturers because bigger numbers sell better.

    No. 3dB is barely noticeable. 10dB is a doubling of perceived volume.
  9. GoLeafsGo

    GoLeafsGo Not Quite Right!

    Oct 25, 2013
    Ajax Ontario
    Check out the Yorkville line. We have the 10's, clean sound, goes pretty loud too, more than enough for small bar. We run guitar (sometimes 2) and vocals through them. Have also on occasion run electronic drum kit too. Seems to be enough to handle that. $1000 Cdn. should do it too.
  10. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    Thanks. I always forget about Yorkville. Made not far from you too!
    GoLeafsGo likes this.
  11. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Turbo Sound, QSC, JBL
  12. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Line arrays are great tool in the right hands for getting equally distributed audio over a large venue.

    Here's the rub:

    1) If you haven't worked with them before, you may not be aware of how much work it takes to tune them to the space. To do that tuning right, you also need a bunch of training.

    2) You're using them on PART of your mix. So, assuming you have them properly set up, what you'll get is consistent vocals and guitars over the venue. The stuff not in the PA will, however, vary quite a bit - it'[ll fall off with distance. Hence you're using an expensive, tough to set up speaker system, and you're going to get a widely varying mix on the audience area, as part of the audio isn't being run through it. In a lot of places, more normal speakers (point source kind of things) will give you guitars and vocals that fall off in the back of the venue, which is probably better - Your drums and bass are going to fall off at the back, as they're not in the PA, so having the vocals and guitars do that will likely sound more natural.
  13. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Another rub...line arrays don't generally work as a line source across the entire frequency spectrum. The spacing between drivers becomes too small at high frequencies, and it is not practical to build arrays long enough for low frequencies. This is part of the reason that tuning is so tricky.
  14. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    My 2Cents: steer clear of the new Mackie offerings :rolleyes:
  15. I tend to fall into the "buy once, cry once" crowd. It is always a better option to get what you need now and not immediately be looking to upgrade something you just bought. IMHO I would be looking to buy something that 1) Would meet my current needs easily, and 2) Still be a useful part of a bigger system down the road. I have experience with both Yamaha DBR 10's and QSC K12.2's, and would highly recommend both in their respective price ranges. A pair of either would more than adequately meet your current needs, and also easily become part of a bigger system down the road. I have also used Alto TS212's which would be a good cheap alternative.
  16. Blaze Barlow

    Blaze Barlow

    Mar 8, 2018
    personally..I never liked the built in powered speakers..I heard some yorkvilles that sounded great with a DJ..but a full band is a different thing..having seperate amps and cabinets have always been the best allows for different configurations..and you can switch out components if there is a technical problem..with built ins..if you have a problem..the whole system is down..arrays are good..but you have to know how to use them effectively..when I was working for a sound company..we always flew the mids and highs and the lows were close to the ground..but elevated up just a little..everybody likes different things in a PA setup..the quality of the sound is in the quality of the speaker cabs..the house effects rack..and the technical ability of the person mixing sometimes its a hard decision..but if you are getting out and seeing shows at different venues..we always used EAW speaker cabs (eastern accoustic works)..the other favorites were meyer and turbosound..but the good stuff always costs more money..but if your sound is important to need to determine how to best maximixe my rack..I always use Booke Siren EQ's..DBX compressors..Lexicon and Eventide reverbs and delays..I always use crest and crown amps..
  17. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Get yerself a pair of EV ZLX12P and be done with it. QSC K-series is definitely good stuff, but at a higher pricepoint than the ZLX.
  18. imdkoz

    imdkoz Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2006
    +1 on the ZLX I have 3 of the 12P speakers and they sound great.
    jon mccumber and DirtDog like this.
  19. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Even the high end touring speakers are now largely self powered. My philosopy is/was very similiar to yours and my organization traded out perfectly functional Apogee AE5 speaker systems with Crown and Crest amp racks for Meyer UPA1P (against my recommendation). Functionally I would consider these speakers near equivalent.

    The benefit gained was to eliminate a bunch of very heavy amp racks and speaker cable trunks. Of course we had to carry and setup extra AC and mic cables so some of the benefits were offset a bit. Although we did not buy the necessary hardware, UPA1Ps can be digitally controlled/managed so it is very easy to dial them in if you have the right tools.

    Regarding break downs. A pro sound company would probably stock a supply of drivers and amplifiers. When something breaks, a part is swapped out and sent to the OEM to satisfy a core charge when another part is bought.
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