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For band PA: Why not arrays of small speakers?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by John Bigboote, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. Backstory: Our drummer owns all the PA gear. It's big, heavy, and way too much for many gigging situations (e.g. 215 Peaveys and a 32-channel board!). I look at gear catalogs, and see 115 mains and 112 mains (both + horns), and think about all I've read about dispersion, beaming etc., and I wonder: Why isn't someone selling vertical array mains made up of, say, four to six 8" drivers + tweets, crossed over to a dedicated sub? It would be light, portable, unobtrusive, and I would think they'd be able to cover vox, guitars and keys without any problem, up to a medium-sized venue.

    I know Bose has taken this concept to the extreme with their little stick arrays, and I know big arenas have gone to the huge (and godawful expensive) line arrays, but isn't there an effective middle ground that would work for bands and small venues? Acoustically, aren't 15" drivers poorly suited to ordinary PA applications above maybe 1 kHz (which ain't gonna happen in a two-way system)?


    alaskaleftybass likes this.
  2. That looks very cool. It also looks very expensive per unit, and I wonder how many you'd have to get for even midsized applications. JBL also sells powered line array components (8" + tweeter), but at around $2K per, they're way-unaffordable. I'm thinking more of a single cabinet (maybe with a second, stackable cabinet for more volume) that consists of an array of 8" speakers, instead of a single 15, that would come within, say, +50% of the cost of a standard 15" PA cabinet (either passive or active).

  3. Ever hear of the Bose 802?
  4. Pete


    Jan 3, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I've heard the 802. Horrid box.

    When you're talking about line array you also have to either ground stack or fly them which is very cost prohibitive and has to be done by a qualified rigger. Most bands don't have that kind of cash to do it. There's nothing wrong with a good quality trap box, many many sound companies are still using them long after they've paid for themselves over and over. The key there is using decent boxes, 15+2"exit which right there no bar band can afford a 2K box (same as line array). And high quality components means they sound good when driven to the top of thier limits, not like the cheap guitar center crap.

    Powered boxes offer a good compromise to the band circut and the complexity factor isn't as high too. But imagine having to buy 6 or 8 to get anywhere. So back to single 12 or 15+1" boxes for bar band use. And really, if you sounded THAT good would you still be playing the Pastime or Murphy's?
  5. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    Line arrays are expensive, in many cases complex to set up, a line array is not always the best answer and did I mention expensive. What you are decribing are made by several companies such as EAW, Meyer and SLS to name a few.
  6. The simple fact that a 2x15"+horn mid-high cabinet on top of a single or double 18" subwoofer meets the height requirements to shoot over drunkass bar patrons, without taking up too much room in the trailer or costing an arm and 3 legs, makes it the de-facto bar system of choice for the last 30 years or so.

    QSC's stick system sounds awesome (as do the others) but we can't afford it.
    I've mixed in a small club that got sold some line-array gear and it was nothing but problems, although it sounded fine when I took out their crossover/amps and used my own--bad set-up as usual. Proper EQ and gain structure seems to elude most people for some reason.

    The best 2x15" cabs have a passive crossover between them, so the top 15" doesn't have to deal with any frequencies under 250hz.
    This keeps vocals and guitars clean and clear.

    Your point is valid.
    The market WILL eventually catch up.
    But it'll be a few more years.
  7. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Cost and simplicty.

    You can achieve this with using a quality crossover and power amp matrix.

    There have been some attempts through the years to do this -- the reality is there are few better options than a big rugged box.
  8. We have slimmed down our PA - went from 18's 15's and 12's to quality 115's (JBL MRX) It all depends what venues you play, we play to 150 - 250 pub gigs other bands at the same venues use full Pa (all drums miked bass via PA) we don't, we have good backline and quality PA components and use the PA for mainly vocals and the crowd are happy.
    Most bars are installing DB monitoring these days so how loud can you go?
    Good luck
  9. We use 2 subs, each with a Yamaha 2-15 on top of them. On top of that, we place Mackie 1-12 powered speakers.

    We run all instruments on the left channel of the board through the 2-15's and subs using a crossover. We run vocals only on the right channel thru an EQ then out to the Mackies.

    We have found our sound has become quite clear as the instruments are separated from the vocals. It's a tall stack but pretty amazing sounding out in the crowd.
    juancaminos likes this.
  10. Actually, that basic design speaks precisely to my question: Isn't a 15 fundamentally a lousy choice for midrange, because of beaming?

    Also, I should have been more careful in my use of the word "array." I'm talking about multiple smaller drivers (e.g. four 8" drivers) in a left and right pair of single vertical enclosures, making it better suited for midrange dispersion while still providing adequate volume for vocals, keys and guitar. The "line arrays" of multiple small, two-way boxes that you find in high-end clubs and arenas are hideously expensive, and have to be installed in the venue. That's not what I'm talking about at all.

    I know I'm trying to reinvent the wheel here, just wondering if it's been tried and, if so, why it doesn't work. Again, Bose has taken it to an extreme with very small drivers in their stick systems; it just seems to me that a middle ground, comprising 8" or 6.5" drivers would provide a lightweight, unobtrusive mains design that would offer better dispersion of mids without a significant loss of volume compared to conventional big boxes. Add a dedicated sub, and you're off to the races, no?

  11. Probably should have checked Bill Fitzmaurice's site first...


    "Also included: plans for a six foot high pro-sound version of TLAH, loaded with 8" drivers."

    Well, there you go...

  12. Pete


    Jan 3, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    SLS makes a box that is 6.5" and ribbons that is 4ft vertical (I think, going off memory here). That would be a good alternative though you still need subs.

    High quality dual 15's don't use a crossover between the 15's at all. The 2" exit they use crosses over lower (1k) and reduces the beamyness of the 15 that way and the 2 15's are needed to keep up with the 110db efficiency of the horn. In a dual 15 1" exit box the 15's outrun the compression driver and since the range is greater the 2 15's have a crossover placed between them. It's marketing too. People will accept the crappier speaker if they think it's bigger and better. I hate cheap dual 15 cabs. I love good ones though...
  13. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    that makes sense.

    thing is, i bet if the OP is over dragging around cheap 2x15s, he's gonna really hate lifting good ones.

    to me, in bars single 15s with actual subs sound better than the 2x15 by itself, and the top box can be pole- or stand-mounted to get it up over the crowd where it belongs, something you can't do with the 2x15.

    so easier to carry and better dispersion and better low end.
  14. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    i did a few gigs at a place with that bose 802.. i thought it was actually one of the better dive bar backlines i'd seen.

    comparing it to any 12" or 15" PA cabs ive used in dive bar gigs, it was way better sounding, with better headroom.
  15. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Inactive

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    Cost + complexity to setup. Usually when I used to have to haul and bring our own PA, we were totally pressed for time.
    Didn't have the extra minutes/hours it'd take to set something like that up. I've been using 2x15+118 bottom for ages and always works fine. Powered units, at that! :bassist:
  16. TimmyP


    Nov 4, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    Quality dual 15s do not run both 15s all the way up to the horn. The bottom one rolls out at low mid frequencies in order to avoid comb filtering and lobing problems.

    I have the SLS 8695 columns. They have many good qualities (http://www.padrick.net/LiveSound/SLS/LS8695.htm). However they won't play as loud as say a pair of QRX212s (which have a pretty narrow dispersion above the crossover).
  17. Check out the JBL VRX line array system. My band has one and it's unbelievably easy to set up and tear down. Nice system.
  18. We are running 1x15 bottoms with a top mounted pole and a 3 way 12, 6 and horn on top of that on each side with a 2 way crossover. mostly vocals, but we do put the kick and some bass guitar in the subs just to put it up front of our mix since we are a trio. Super easy to set up and tear down. like 25 minutes from carry in to sound check and fills most of the rooms we play
  19. GregShadoan


    Sep 1, 2008
    O, there are really nice very compact powered speakers out there. Just be sitting, or laying down when you get a price quote.
    For example: http://www.l-acoustics.com/products-108p-42.html
    I have had these out, and they are amazing. For an 8" driver, you would be floored what can come out of them. Be ready to lay out about 2800 each though.
    It is a get what you pay for thing. Is there an echo in here ??? here here here???

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