1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
     
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Powered speaker volume settings

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by TomB, Jan 22, 2018.


  1. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    I think this is the right place to ak this... I've just begun using powered speakers (let's stick with PA mains for now) JBL PRX712's. I've turned them up about halfway so far, for the most part. I'm finding that I'm using unusually high gain settings on the board to reach the same volume as with passive speakers pushed by 400 watt class D amps. Question is, do those "volume" controls on the speaker act as atttenuators? If I turn them all the way up will they be a closer equivalence to a passive speaker - or do I put the amps at risk? I realize there's a 1500 watt power amp in between the board and the speakers, but I'm still wondering: for those who use powered mains, where do you typically set your speaker volume control? Thx!
     
  2. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Generally the input pads on powered speakers are set so that the input level to the internal amps is in the correct range for the output levels of the source system. So basically, you set the attenuators so that you can use the full range of the console faders. This assumes you have set the gain correctly on the mixer, leaving some room for working faders.
     
    TomB likes this.
  3. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    That makes sense. It just seems like I'm setting everything higher than my usual for the same SPL, making me suspect that the Soundcraft preamps are pretty low-gain, if that's the right term. It all sounds OK - no clipping, just concerned about headroom in a larger setting. It may just be the nature of the preamps.
     
  4. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    Sounds like you need to turn up your JBLs a bit.

    The level/gain controls on active speakers works the same way as the level/gain controls on power amps. If you have to use drastically different level/gain settings than what you normally use, check for user selectable sensitivity settings.

    If I have more power than required, I normally set up my systems so I can run the board's output meters peaking around -9 to -6db without blowing out the room. This gives me a bit of headroom to accommodate the tendency for stage volume to creep up during shows. If the speakers have some ac hum/buzz that I can't resolve I may run the board hotter and turn amps down a bit to improve signal to noise (S/N) ration.

    If the system has insufficient power, I will set up the system so the speakers hit their limiters when the board is peaking slightly above 0db. The exact setting depends upon were the board starts clipping and how gracefully the amp/speakers overload. Basically my goal is for the board and speakers to hit their limits simultaneously. Many people set their system up this way all the time. IMHO this is fine as long as your system has a good S/N ratio and the board sounds the same regardless of output levels.
     
    StyleOverShow and TomB like this.
  5. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    Helpful info ...thanks!
     
  6. PCR

    PCR

    Apr 11, 2008
    Depending on what you're looking for, I think you might have your channel gain structures off. If you're looking for pure SPL, then go with big heavy passive speakers and monster power amps. I go for clarity and fullness. I'm looking for a full mix that does kill my audience ears.

    I set up my gain backwards from Speakers to Mics, then adjust the mic gains and use the mic faders to control the volume and mix. Here is my basic process:
    • Set main speaker volume to unity: 0 (usually the middle detent)
    • Set main fader to unity: 0
    • Roll up mic volume to 80% of final volume
    • Dial in mic gain structure while balancing channel fader
    • Dial in channel effects
    • Move on to next channel
    Basically: I set my speaker volume and main board fader to unity, then set up my mic gain structure, and use the channel faders to control individual channel volume and overall volume. That way you get the most out of your individual channels and you're using the channel faders to for the mix and balance, and you're not over driving your active speakers into distortion while retaining decent headroom.

    I use my main board fader to cut the overall volume down, if it is still too loud. The only time I will nudge up speaker volume on my powered mains is if it's still too low when the channel mixes are all the way up (but still below distortion). If that's too low, then you have under powered your mains of the job, and you need to consider adding another set of mains to get more volume.

    For comparison sake (I don't have the best setup, but it works for our needs):
    I run an XR18 mixer, 2x EV ZX15P for FOH, 2x EV ZX12P for monitors. This works for 90% of our gigs. When we play outdoors, or a really large room, we will add our guitarists powered speakers (2x Yamaha DSR15 and 2x DSR12) daisy chained off of mine. This set up doesn't really add volume, it adds fullness and clarity. We have never had the need to go beyond using 4x 15's FOH.

    I don't claim to be a great sound guy, but like my bass playing, I'm serviceable. Hope this helps.
     
    StyleOverShow and TomB like this.
  7. thekyle55

    thekyle55

    Mar 14, 2012
    Don't be afraid to turn that knob up. As long as you don't clip really hard for a long time or send a huge transient, you won't hurt them. Newer powered speakers protect themselves fairly well.

    The way I use the knob on powered speakers or the attenuator on power amps is to manage the balance between subs and mains if I'm not running aux fed subs. I have good subs (a pair of PRX718XLF) and fairly poor mains (Peavey PV115). My subs outrun my mains pretty handily, so I have to dial then back. However, the main venue I play at has Yamaha DSR115s that are ridiculously loud and good sounding. I have to dial them back to about 9 o'clock on the dial to match the subs up all the way and not be super top heavy.

    Those 712s are good speakers and can handle abuse. Just watch the clip light.
     
    TomB likes this.
  8. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Two words: aux-fed subs.
     
    TomB likes this.
  9. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    I use a group buss to run the sub, 2 auxes for monitors. Is there any disadvantage to the group buss vs. an aux send?

    BTW, thanks for all the help so far. It's helping me to settle in with this new (to me) type of system - been mostly a straight passive speakers / power amp guy for 25 years!
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  10. BryanB

    BryanB Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I use a sub-group too. On the X32, you can set to fader to follow the mains. Pretty cool.
     
  11. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    Depends on how you are assigning channels and routing the group? If bass instruments are dual assigned to mains and a group, and the group is setup post-fader and routed directly to the subs instead of to the mains, you are essentially achieving the same results as running the subs off a post-fader aux.

    If you are returning the group to the mains and sending a full range stereo mix to you speakers your missing out on an opportunity to tighten up your low end.

    Basically the idea is to only send those channels to the subs that are appropriate. Usually bass, kick drum, and maybe keys. Assigning vocals, guitars, toms, overheads, etc to subs is a recipe for mud because low frequencies (both direct and indirect sound) will bleed into all of the open mics with varying amounts of delay or phase distortion.
     
  12. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    Got it. No, I'm not assigning that group to the mains, so I expect it's the equivalent of an aux send. Only bass and kick are going to that group (no keys). Thx!
     
    Wasnex likes this.

Share This Page