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All-in-One Stick units vs Tops/Subs

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by pfschim, Apr 17, 2021.

  1. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Does anyone want to weigh in on these All-in-One "stick" units (like Bose L1, EV Evlove, Turbosound IP etc) vs more traditional powered tops/sub(s) systems.

    Been looking at PA gear for multiple applications/bands and I see the small stick/array systems are all over the place at prices (other than Bose maybe) that stack up against top/sub systems.
    After looking around a bit I feel like I could get a top/sub rig with 2 way 10's on top of one 2x12 cardioid Sub (2x QSC K10.2 + KS212c) for around $3600. Also looks like a stick system with 2xArray + Sub (EV Evolve 50) could be had for around $3500. Specs for both of these systems are pretty close to each other ... a bit of +/- on the low end extention, SPL and weight etc, but it would seem they would probably be pretty close in the real world ... at leas spec wise.

    So just for grins (and my information) does anyone have any real world/functional info on these 2 types of PA's to share ? Use case is multiple bands of widely varying music styles (jazz - americana, country rock, celtic rock). None of the bands are ear bleed loud, the PA would be used to get control over stage volume and better balance to the audiences we play for.
  2. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I am pretty sure this thread has the discussion you want: Turbosound IP2000 Review | TalkBass.com

    I have mixed on a pair of the original Bose L1s pushing four of the B1 subs. They got a bit phasey sounding in the range of the cymbals, I would estimate round 6-7khz. Also their dispersion was not particularly wide. The newer version of the L1 as every other driver splayed left and right. This gets the spacing between drivers a bit closer to push the phasing to a higher frequency and also is supposed to widen the dispersion.

    Because the columns have no baffle to speak of, it took me a couple of days to figure out the system EQ. The sound was wrapping around the arrays and causing all sorts of feedback through the vocal mics. I really had to carve out the low mids.

    The biggest problem was extremely limited SPL. Most of these stick systems have less SPL capabilities than a QSC K8.2...so consider your volume requirements carefully. Last time I checked, the HK Elements were the most powerful in this class of system (also very expensive), but they did not necessarily have the best features across the board. It depends on how you use them and what features you are looking for.

    I base what I am writing on this comparison review from 2017. The Great Stick PA Roundup — AudioTechnology

    Here is a newer review that I have not read: Top 7 Best Column Line Array Portable PA Speaker 2020 | Musicshop.sg

    Good Luck!
    pfschim and Hoyt like this.
  3. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    thanks Wasnex, you are an experienced voice of reason around these parts. :thumbsup:

    I'm guessing I'll end up with a 2 x K10.2 (or possibly K12.2) + sub (KS212c). But these stick systems are kind of interesting.
    rhopper and Wasnex like this.
  4. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    That type of line arrays does have some advantages that are discussed in the thread I linked. Try to wade through the marketing mumbo jumbo and objectively weigh the pros and cons. Sorry but this is probably not an easy task.

    I don't have particularly high SPL requirements, but most of the available systems don't get loud enough for my needs. I think I would be pretty happy with the biggest HK Elements systems, but it's unlikely I would be willing to pay the cost premium.

    I think the current top of the HK Elements is the Big Base Single. One of these runs $2749 at Adorama. It consists of an EA 210 Sub AS and two E835 mid/high packs. The built in amp can drive one additional E835 ($529) and a passive L Sub 1200 ($869). So for one side the total is $4147. Double this for stereo = $8294. So as you see we are talking some pretty big money here.

    The axial sensitivity of the E835 is listed as 100dB and power handling is listed as 300W. That's going to put one E835 at about 124dB. Keep in mind for the range in which the system actually works as a line source, the sound will decrease at a rate of 3dB for each doubling of distance, rather than 6dB for each doubling of distance. This is and advantage, but the downside is the mids will throw farther than the highs and lows. This was noticeable with the Bose L1/B1 system I used. The bass really seemed to get lost in the distance.
  5. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    yeah. money is not the primary decision factor, but for my apparent needs, it's hard to argue with the very nice QSC top/sub system for $3,600 vs anything at $8k.
    rhopper and Wasnex like this.
  6. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    A few years ago when the Bose L1 was all the rage I got to try it in many different contexts.
    Absolutely perfect for acoustic sets.
    For a 4 piece rock band though, it took 4 modules to get even a bit of lows into the room and even then it never was satisfying.
    It brought the price to almost 3x that of a decent PA for a less than stellar result. I don't know how much progress they made.

    Meanwhile, PA systems improved to the point where you get fantastic dispersion, all the power you need, digital mixer, lightshow and effects within a couple boxes you carry in one trip.
  7. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    i think the points wasnex makes about spls & 'throw' is telling. i played a duo gig with an acoustic guitarist for a while. on occasion, a drummer with an electric kit would show up. we ran everything through the signer's L1/2subs system ... but i would also bring my a.i. combo and we would run the bass (and sometimes kick drum) through that as well. it worked great (and sounded great!) for the small bars and restaurants we played at. it could even keep up at a smallish dance hall with reflective acoustics just fine. but, it was not 'loud' enough for a large crowd wanting to rock.
    Groove Doctor and Wasnex like this.
  8. JeezyMcNuggles


    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    They're great. Weird looking, but they crank. And sound twice they're size. The dj that does the karaoke at Mongo's has a pair. Not sure of the brand. They might be the QSC, but I want to say they're JBL.
    Ampslut likes this.
  9. Don't believe the ad hype, sticks will never push wind like a true full range cab.
    I was very tempted when they first came out. But went for JBL PRX's instead and couldn't be happier.
    I've heard and played through Bose, JBL and Turbosound sticks.
  10. Ketbass

    Ketbass Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2020
    Dayton, OH
    I just started using the Bose L1 system with 2 subs. Fantastic sound for small venues and practice space. I got mine as a PA but quickly noticed my bass cut through the mix better and it makes my bass sound like what I want it to. I have used it with my Eden 410 for a deeper sound but for what I do totally not necessary.
  11. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Not quite the true "stick" format, I guess, but they used a pair of these at a Marcus Miller master class a few years ago and they sounded, really, really good.

    RCF EVOX12 Active Two Way Array
  12. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Although people use them like traditional mains, when Bose came up with the original L1 the idea was to have one stick per sound source. The subs were thought to be only needed for bass, drums maybe keys.

    On a large enough stage (i.e. not your typical bar) each performer would have the stick about 6 feet behind them. No mains and no monitors needed. Of course that's crazy money for a typical band if everyone in the band has to buy one.

    As a result, they work really well for solo performers. Some of the Bose models have "ToneMatch" built in...each channel can be preset for a particular mike (SM58, 57, etc.) or guitars (Martin, Taylor, Guild, etc.) with a preset EQ that you cna then tweak to match the room. For solo acts that's pretty slick.

    I have worked with them as mains and am not 100% convinced the higher prices (esp. for Bose) are justified. They make nice sidefills, though. There's also the issue of low ceilings to deal with. I've played stages where the headstock of my DB bumps the ceiling, most of the sticks wouldn't fit.
    yodedude2 and Engle like this.
  13. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Despite initial skepticism, I drank the Bose kool-aid about six years ago (after four decades of speaker-on-a-stick) and have never looked back. I started with the Model I, now with 2 Model IIs and a Compact thrown in. I suspect that similar designs from other makers might provide the Bose advantages for less $$, but I have no experience with them.

    The Bose L are great, but not for everybody or every situation.

    Most of the posters so far have mentioned inadequacies in the bass. The larger "B2" subwoofer alleviates much of that, but, as @Wasnex points out, the SPL decay-over-distance differs quantitatively from the stick to the sub, so low frequencies will not be heard proportionally at great distances.

    1. Easy to shlep;
    2. Easy to set up;
    3. NO MONITORS NEEDED (can you tell this means a lot to me?);
    4. Wide dispersion;
    5. More even SPL over distance;
    6. Less room effect (reverberation) due to much-decreased vertical dispersion.

    1. Connectivity options could be better (you still need a mixer in many situations);
    2. They take up room where musicians and gear would otherwise sit or stand;
    3. See above regarding subwoofer SPL decay-over-distance compared to array SPL decay;
    4. In rooms with balconies or high stages, decreased vertical dispersion can mean poor coverage.

    Caveat: I have never needed to use them in a loud rock-and-roll situation.
    Groove Doctor and Wasnex like this.
  14. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    We've been using a Bose tower for 3 years or so and it works perfect for our trio. No more monitor issues and the audience has commented on how full everything sounds.
  15. Glad to see my original thread posted here. Let me try to sum it up. it started back when the first IP2000 v1 system came out. There were a lot of technical issues with cracking then. In fact I had something rolling around inside. I still own a pair of the V1's which I received after returning my original. That pair works great. When the V2 version came out it was on sale for $750 a stack. I was doing a lot of mixing for larger bands and outside shows so I bought a pair of them as well. By having four total i have great flexibility in how many I bring. They don't "feel" as loud as a traditional speaker on a pole and sub but they really are. I went from QSC K10.2 tops and am 18" QSC powered sub to these. No looking back.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
  16. I have watched another band with 2 of the Bose stick systems playing in the same pub my band played and they had a lot more feedback issues than we ever did with QSC K10’s as mains and passive Carvin 10s for monitors.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  17. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    I have k10's, zxa1subs, dbr10's, 2 bose l1 model 2's with 4 b2 subs (requires 2 extra amps) and play in bands that use k12's and a kw181 sub. I also ordered two of the turbosound sticks, compared them side by side with a k10 and sent them back.

    The primary benefit of the sticks is they look better than a cab on a stand. They also have better side dispersion.

    Turbosound experiment:


    Indoor gig with k12 mains:


    Indoor with bose as mains:


    Outdoors with 4 k12s as mains:


    If you try to use them indoors with 4 vocal mics and no monitors at rock volume there will be the same feedback issues that would come with standing in front of a traditional PA. I haven't tried to put a full band in front with no monitors outside. But if you read the bose literature they tell you adding a second mic will increase feedback opportunity. So if you want to run a full band in one or two I'd recommend monitors.
  18. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Well, it's a little dicey to compare someone else's outcome with a certain set of gear to your own with another set of gear, isn't it? So many factors... you may have a valid point, but it's hard to tell. I mean, maybe the other band sucked!
  19. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    The difference in throw between the mids and lows was most noticeable outdoors for me. I wound up experimenting and coming up with sort of a spaced bass array that seemed to help a focus more of the lows in front of the band. I think it helped, but maybe I was just fooling myself.

    I had something like 2' or 3' cables for the subs. I set up the L1s and subs like this. The distance between each sub was approximately 1.5' to 2'.
    Also, the HF dispersion of the original L1s was pretty beamy. I had to place the L1s much closer to the center of the stage than I normal would run the mains speakers to create an effective ghost image between the two column. I also had to toe the columns in towards the center a bit and tilt them forward.

    This placement initially contributed to the feedback problems I had in the low mids with the vocal mics. After I figured out a really aggressive system EQ curve, the feedback problems went away and the low mids sounded relatively natural. I bypassed all of the Bose L1's proprietary EQ since I was using a mixing console and a variety of mics.

    Another issue IMHO, is the original L1 arrays had very narrow vertical dispersion in the high range. I always set the bases up on tables or the stage, and then tilted them forward by placing something under the back of the base. They L1s not designed for this as you could see them flexing at the joint between the two array modules.

    I could aim the L1s so people sitting got ideal sound or people standing got ideal sound, but not both. The people in the none optimum position would hear less highs and/or high mids. The perception I had was sound was coming from the center of the array, which of course is sort of an illusion, but that seems to be the way the listener perceives sound from this type of array.

    I guess the point is vertical dispersion in the high range of the L1s was very narrow. Lengthening the array may actually make this problem worse as it should theoretically narrow the dispersion even more.

    The Turbo Sound IP2000 uses a compression horn tweeter on top of the array for HF duty. This is resolves some problems, but introduces a new set of problems since it mixes line source with point source technology. Like everything you have to weight the pros and cons.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
    AGCurry likes this.
  20. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I ran a full mix through the pair of Bose L1s and four B1s. The mixer was a Yamaha DM1000. We had a pair of active Meyer Sound USM-100P monitors for the vocals. The channel assignment was something like this: bass, kick, snare, OHL, OHR, guitar1, guitar2, vocal1, vocal2, vocal3, trombone, sax, trumpet.
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