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Any Experience with Ultra Compact PAs?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by jive1, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Hi, considering getting an ultra compact PA for smaller acoustic shows, and possibly using it as monitors with a larger setup. I currently use a powered mixer with a couple of EV ZX90s for the smaller gigs, and I wouldn't mind going smaller that I can carry with less trips overall. For the acoustic gigs, vocals and guitar will go through it, along with some other instruments such as bass, percussion, sax, etc. depending on who is on the gig.

    The systems I have in mind so far:
    HK Audio Lucas Nano 300
    Alto Mixpack
    Roland BA-330
    Bose L1

    I'm leaning towards the Nano 300, since it can be carried one piece in one trip, and it can get me a stereo image with the satellites. Downside is that it has no reverb.
    The mix pack looks the cheapest, but I'll still need stands for the speakers.
    The L1 is probably the most mature product of all these, but in terms of compactness and portability along with price, it's not ideal.
    The Roland looks interesting, but not sure how a speaker on the floor will fill the room.

    I'm open to other suggestions as well.
    If you have experience with any of these systems, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
  2. gareth dunster

    gareth dunster

    Dec 8, 2009
    I use a Yamaha stagepass 500 sometimes. I'm always surprised how good it sounds but it comprises two speakers , one of which holds the removable powered mixer which can detached with a couple of fixings. The mixer has enough inputs for most small setups.
  3. Register_To_Disable

  4. Most of the guys I back use this caliber type stuff.

    I own one too (Kustom One).... I've played 100 person bar type gigs with it... rollls in on a suit case.... I leave it setup and in my practice room.

    IF interested, I'd cut you a VERY sweet deal on it as I rarely bring out a PA to these gigs.


    I normally bring an amplifier... we tried putting me direct... the bass fullness wasn't there.

    As you're aware, Bose kind of "owns" this piece of the market. It's not cheap for what you get. Their mixer is an expensive toy --- not as warm as an analog mackie

    The L1 gets a bad shake by sound guys. I think they sound thin.... that being said it's bigger bother with bigger subs are an expensive Cat's meow.

    My duo mate bought the big dog...fits all in his korean car... he uses a Mackie board (the new digital - my older analaog sounds better)... I believe he has about $3,000 into the setup.

    It is a nice clean look... easy/fast/small to assemble.

    I saw a guy using something that was pole mount... about the size of a 2x8 guitar amp... had nice full sound and straight forward controls. The design fault was that the knobs were on the top (remember pole mount).... I'd guess it to be about $500


    OPINION - Kustom PW50 (nice gizmo toy)
    These little breadloaf sized units don't get much exposure... you see them all over europe. for $100 each, they're fast and portable. When doing church installations, I'll commonly spec a used guitar wireless and one of these for remote use (baby cry room, nursery etc)... they're tuned to a natural voice...have some nice controls... you can effectively use them with a home stereo sub (really opens them up)... down side is they pole mounts are not standard.

    I've used them as monitors... the nifty feature of them is that you can mount them to a tripod pole... there's enough power to monitor vocals.

    Fishman Acoustic type amps
    Many of the single guy type background type acts (singer songwriters) use these... they plunk them on the floor... plug and go... they sound warm... NEVER seen anyone with a duo/trio use them. My duo mate still brings one to warm up his taylor before going to the bose setup.

    OPINION - active mains (for mixed use)
    I'd really be looking toward the powered integrated cabs... for what you're doing, a pair of them and small desk mixer would accomplish more ... you can use one for a main and one for a monitor... use them both for a monitor when you need them.


    OPINION --- Fishman or Bose (only if doing a ton of these gigs)
    IF you're planning on doing a ton of acoustic type gigs, the vertical sticks are kind of the "standard" I think the Fishman is a better bang for the buck.


    The issue you'll soon have is you'll love the "presence" that the newer systems have... after a few weeks, you'll be trying to EQ warmth back into it.

    You may chuckle (or say I"m full of it)... my voice is in the Toby Keith/Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra range...... the single best mic I've been able to use has been a drum mic.... I went through all 50 of my mics in the case, all of them sounded strange and thin.

    My band mate found a Senheiser that works with his range.

    Onto PREAMPS....

    About 6 months later, you're going to try warm up your guitars.... Taylors end up sounding like a tin plate.... Permanently mounted on my board is a Line6 pod... (I can send both vocals and guitar/Bass)... my duo mate still brings along his fishman guitar amp... One of the guys I play with has an elaborate pedal board that has various EQ, Radial type DIs etc... all in the name of warming up his modern Martin (expensive USA one)


    Overall opinion
    After all this rambling... sounds like you're really describing a pair of active 12s and some variety of preamp/mixer...

    With any of the options above, plan on some R&D time/testing....and budgeting.
  5. Feel invited to PM me (or post back to this thread)...

    I gig out about 200-250x per year (mostly in this type of market)... I've seen (or gigged) with most of the "big hitters" in our region.... have seen gear come and go.

    I do see a lot of gear in this category get purchased then shelved.... Overall most of the nice sounding systems cost in the 3500-5000 range total.


    there are a few cheaper & nicer sounding options --- not as useful if you're a heavy gigger in this market.


    1-How big a "footprint" space do you have to total to set up all of your gear?
    2-How many times a year do you gig solo/duo/trio?
    3-How many SPL do you need/want to push out?
  6. modulusman


    Jan 18, 2004
    Read the specs on the nano. It has POS written all over it. 10% distortion:eek: I would look at a powered speaker along the lines of a QSC k series. Depending on how many inputs you need you might be able to just plug into the speaker and not need a mixer. it would work alot better as a monitor in a band situation.
  7. You'll still be wanting an older analog mixer
  8. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    1. It depends on the place, but the smaller the footprint the better. The goal is to get a smaller footprint. The setup I have now sounds great, but it's larger than I want. I love my EVs, but unless I have a cart, it takes me a couple trips to bring everthing in.

    2. Not as many as I did a couple years ago. Probably under 20, this year. But, I'm looking to expand that in 2013.

    3. Ideally, the same as my EVs (123db 1m)
  9. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Well, that's 10% at 116 db, which tells me that it's not going to me very usable at that volume level or give me much headroom to push it if needed. I think I would have to actually hear it to see how much usable dbs this thing really has.

    Good point about the K12s. I'm considering those for mains for a larger setup, and I guess I could use a single for a small gig. The connectivity would be fine for a solo gig. It's a little heavier than I'd like though. But, I could use them until technology catches up to what I would actually want/need.
  10. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    LOVE my Stagepass 500. I use it for smaller, full-electric-band-with-a-drummer gigs frequently and it does fantastic for mic'ing the vocals, kick drum, and any guitars if needed. (I have a powered sub for mine also however)
  11. Sounds like you're describing some variety of active main


    Something like the Bose or fishman sticks (either of these aren't the best for band monitors)


    This rambling aside - you're describing a full-range active main
  12. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound

    Looks like a full range main may be the solution. Even with the compact PAs with an integrated mixer, I'll still probably bring a notebook mixer for the EQ and FX. If I could mount it on a mic stand, instead of a speaker pole that will be real cool. If I could skip bringing a pole altogether, even better.

    I like my EV ZX1s, so I might opt for getting a powered version. I may also consider the QSC K8s, since they have a wider dispersion that might let me get away with just one speaker.

    I appreciate everyone's thoughts so far, and if you have more, I'm all ears.
  13. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I didn't really consider the Stagepass, but sounds interesting with a sub. How did you configure that?

    I used an older model Yamaha powered speaker at a church as a bass monitor, and I always hated the way it sounded. Maybe the current ones sound better.
  14. gareth dunster

    gareth dunster

    Dec 8, 2009
    The stage pass has 1/4 inch speaker outs from the power amp and also for signal outs for the main mix. You could run these out to a subwoofer if it had a crossover.
    It has a hi Z input also which the k12 lacks IIRC.
    I've also thrown these up as dj, vocal and drum monitors in a pinch and they worked fine with the rudimentary reverb.
  15. gareth dunster

    gareth dunster

    Dec 8, 2009
    I should add we do use the qsc and kw series and they're excellent but lack the mixing options you may need.
  16. modulusman


    Jan 18, 2004
  17. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather


    Maybe not a one tripper load in but very nice. I'd even suggest the 12" mains instead of the 15"ers. Just bought a pair from a guy off Craigslist for $200. Damn near brand new and they sound awesome as the seller demonstrated for me. They are very light. Maybe 30lbs each (the 15"ers are 44lbs each). Mixer is about 10lbs.

    Edit. Dunno how I missed these. http://www.carvinguitars.com/products/XP800L-PM10
  18. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I actually have that same exact mixer. It's nice, but it's more channels than I need for an acoustic gig, and doesn't help make it one trip.

    Right now, I'm leaning towards a K10, ZX1A, or DXR10 with a small notebook mixer.
  19. modulusman


    Jan 18, 2004
    That sounds like a good plan to me. :)
  20. zorf


    Dec 27, 2007
    If you were closer, (im on the west coast), i'd make you a killer deal on my dawn system.
    would be perfect for what you are talking about.

    if i were you, i'd probably just go with a k12, a super small mixer, and possibly a second k series speaker, either an 8 or a 12.
  21. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    I'm in a similar situation: looking to upgrade a small rig I use for a regular weeknight gig, but I'd like the pieces to be also useful for glossier party/event gigs.

    I'm probably going with the new Mackie DL board + two QSC K10s. Super portable, small footprint, and useful for larger gigs. It's overkill for my weekday gig, but it would let me sell parts of my current small- & medium-gig PA rigs and replace them with a very small and capable system.