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Al Krow

FRFR advice - compact monitors

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Posted (edited)

Looking for a portable, but decent floor monitor for our band to step up from the Behringer Eurolive B205D** which we've managed to get by with for the last 3 years, but seems we are now outgrowing

What are you guys all using?

Came across this Alto TS308. At Around £245 posted including padded cover it looks like very good value and is also pretty compact / portable. Any experience of Altos in terms of reliability or if you took a decision to go for something 'better'?

Any views on the need to go for a 10" or larger speaker as a monitor?

We're using RCF 310As as our PA speakers. We have several vocals, sax, acoustic guitar and most recently a touch of kick drum going through the PA with lead guitar and bass going through separate back line. 

Aside: I did suggest to our drummer that it might be worth getting a separate woofer / sub-woofer to put bass and drums through, but he felt it would be overkill and is of the view that bass cabs are specifically tuned to bass frequencies! So that told me then! :)

 

 

** as a fyi - the B205D will likely be going up in the FS in the near future, if anyone is looking for something ultra compact.

Edited by Al Krow

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For that budget, should your starting point be more RCF 310s?  £256 for a mkIII and £300 for a mkIV.

RCF is a better product than Alto.
You are already familiar with the RCF 310s.
You now have instant back-up if there is a problem with your main PA.

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Posted (edited)

All good points John.

Around £300 for a Mk III plus cover. Ok not a big difference at all if it's a better product.

Power rating for the Alto is higher and it's a lot more compact (literally half the volume of the RCF 310, which surprised me!) and weighs 20 lbs rather than 28 lbs

I'll have to confess that every little helps when it comes to portability as I'm the old geezer in the band but have, in the tradition of bass players, somehow managed to have responsibility for PA, lights and bass gear for both my bands!! Lol! And we are replacing our ultra-portable Behringher B205D so that will be missed in terms of convenience and space.

 

Edited by Al Krow

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Given how narrow the price gap between the Alto and the RCF is, it’s a no-brainer IMO. RCF is without question a better product.

@jrixn1‘s point about having an instant backup is reason enough to go for it I reckon. Just mix and match without worrying about what speakers are going where during setup. Same quality of sound on stage and out front.

What will you be putting through the monitors? Just vocals? Full mix?

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24 minutes ago, CameronJ said:

What will you be putting through the monitors? Just vocals? Full mix?

"We have several vocals, sax, acoustic guitar and most recently a touch of kick drum going through the PA with lead guitar and bass going through separate back line." 

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1 hour ago, Al Krow said:

I'll have to confess that every little helps when it comes to portability

we are replacing our ultra-portable Behringher B205D so that will be missed in terms of convenience and space.

 

In-ear monitors...

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10 minutes ago, jrixn1 said:

In-ear monitors...

Haha, that took all of 3 posts! 😂

Min cost of IEM for 3 bands and 14 different band members + a couple of deps, for a decent quality set up? 

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1 hour ago, Al Krow said:

"We have several vocals, sax, acoustic guitar and most recently a touch of kick drum going through the PA with lead guitar and bass going through separate back line." 

I did read that, but it implies that is what’s going though your mains (RCFs) not necessarily the same as what you hav going through your on stage band monitors.

Anyway, I shall assume you have a full mix currently going through your Behringer B205s...

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, CameronJ said:

I did read that, but it implies that is what’s going though your mains (RCFs) not necessarily the same as what you hav going through your on stage band monitors.

Anyway, I shall assume you have a full mix currently going through your Behringer B205s...

Sorry, fair point, I read your post too quickly. The vocalists are pretty happy to just have the vocals going the small B205D (just one), possibly with acoustic guitar, as the drums and back line are audible behind them.

Edited by Al Krow

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33 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Haha, that took all of 3 posts! 😂

Min cost of IEM for 3 bands and 14 different band members + a couple of deps, for a decent quality set up? 

The mega-thread is here: https://www.basschat.co.uk/topic/205633-in-ear-monitors-help-needed/ although it's 72 pages now...
The experts are there; I'm just a beginner.

If I remember correctly Bas, you already have a digital desk?  What my band do is provide the XLR cables and Behringer PM1s (about £20), and then asked the individual musicians (and deps) to provide their own earphones.  However, the band do also own a couple of Shure SE215 as spares (about £75).

Myself personally, I also started with the Shure SE215.  I now have the KZ ZS10 (about £35) - as recommended on the above thread.  You can of course get into it and spend £hundreds, if not more.  I haven't got there yet myself.

I found it takes a bit longer to soundcheck at first if not everyone is familiar with the system.  But there's no gear to load in or out!

The ability to set the volume relatively low and yet hear everything with complete clarity is night and day compared to using monitoring or backline.

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Posted (edited)

Just upgraded our Allen & Heath small mixer (Zed10fx) for a slightly larger one (Zed14fx), John. We did think briefly about a digital mixer, but decided to stick to a simple quality analogue as we don't have a dedicated sound man and felt there was going to be too much of a learning curve / opportunity for things to go wrong with a more sophisticated digital mixing desk. That and a significantly higher price for a quality digital desk.

I've had figures of £2k suggested for going IEM. But from what you're saying that's maybe too high? Realistically, I think that will be something for the next upgrade in 2 to 3 years time rather than something we are ready for just yet. 

I do like very much the suggestion of no back line, but I did the math and to get rid of a bass cab and putting bass through the PA, we would be looking at either swapping the 310As for 745As to deal with the low end well or alternatively adding a separate woofer / sub woofer. And the weight saving was actually negligible (or actually a greater weight for FRFR only). 

Edited by Al Krow

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7 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Sorry, fair point, I read your post too quickly. The vocalists are pretty happy to just have the vocals going the small B205D (just one), possibly with acoustic guitar, as the drums and back line are audible behind them.

So the replacement monitor is purely for the vocalists, with a relatively light sonic workload (Vox & acoustic guitar). I’d actually suggest not upgrading massively in speaker size but in overall quality, going with something like a TC Helicon Voicesolo FX150. It’s basically a much more intelligent version of the Behringer that you currently use, with far greater control of levels and more comprehensive I/O. They can go bloody loud and ie even used mine as a small personal monitor for bass.

It has 2 combo XLR Jack sockets, XLR outputs, 3.5mm (1/8”) stereo Aux in and can even supply phantom power to a condenser mic if needed. Has several flavours of reverb on board, adjustable per channel - useful if you have 2 mics going directly into the unit then onto the desk from there. 3 band EQ, again on a per channel basis. They can go silly loud and (perhaps most importantly on a cramped stage) are easily clamped onto the main upright bar of a mic stand, allowing all controls to be within easy reach of the user.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, CameronJ said:

So the replacement monitor is purely for the vocalists, with a relatively light sonic workload (Vox & acoustic guitar). I’d actually suggest not upgrading massively in speaker size but in overall quality, going with something like a TC Helicon Voicesolo FX150. It’s basically a much more intelligent version of the Behringer that you currently use, with far greater control of levels and more comprehensive I/O. They can go bloody loud and ie even used mine as a small personal monitor for bass.

It has 2 combo XLR Jack sockets, XLR outputs, 3.5mm (1/8”) stereo Aux in and can even supply phantom power to a condenser mic if needed. Has several flavours of reverb on board, adjustable per channel - useful if you have 2 mics going directly into the unit then onto the desk from there. 3 band EQ, again on a per channel basis. They can go silly loud and (perhaps most importantly on a cramped stage) are easily clamped onto the main upright bar of a mic stand, allowing all controls to be within easy reach of the user.

Very interesting suggestion, thanks.

Love the weight / size!

But is it going to be much louder than the Behringer - they are both rated 150W RMS? I think with the full back line behind them, a chunk more volume from the monitor would be welcomed by the singers (and the rest of the band being able to hear them from behind the PA also).

Edited by Al Krow

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One other thought on the TC Helicon getting back to John's initial point is that, unlike the TS308, in an emergency it wouldn't be a back up for the PA speaker (given the 150W power rating).

The Alto is only an extra £30 on top of the Helicon, so relatively marginal in terms of benefiting from that additional 'insurance'.

Of course, if I do start getting Alto gear I'm going to be totally tempted, and completely without good reason, to get this TS218S as well god help me! 😂 🤣...

alto-ts218s-subwoofer-372016.jpg 

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6 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Very interesting suggestion, thanks.

Love the weight / size!

But is it going to be much louder than the Behringer - they are both rated 150W RMS? I think with the full back line behind them, a chunk more volume from the monitor would be welcomed by the singers (and the rest of the band being able to hear them from behind the PA also).

I’ve run open mic nights off of these things, easily filling a whole pub with vocals and acoustic guitar. They can get very loud but I haven’t used them with a full band before. I imagine it’ll outgun the Behringer pound for pound and but I’d recommend one per mic stand so each vocalist can have individual control of their own foldback. There is a “thru” output so they can be chained easily, i.e. from vocalist 1 to vocalist 2’s mic stand. 

Not knowing just how loud your stage typically is or how far you tend to be from each other proximity-wise I can’t say for certain how useful they’d be for the rest of the band. In my experience though, as a general rule, if you can avoid sharing monitors between multiple band members - do.

The form factor and weight of these things make it so easy to put them anywhere and have multiples of them without feeling like they’re encroaching on square footage in the performance space. Sure, 3 of them will cost a little under ~£600 but the flexibility they offer is pretty unique.

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Cheers Cam.

On price grounds then a single TS308 is going to win hands down over multiple Helicons. 

I take your point about individual monitors and would certainly be ideal. But it's a trade off between simplicity and quick set up (particularly for pub gigs) and the ideal.

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2 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Cheers Cam.

On price grounds then a single TS308 is going to win hands down over multiple Helicons. 

I take your point about individual monitors and would certainly be ideal. But it's a trade off between simplicity and quick set up (particularly for pub gigs) and the ideal.

Tha’s fair enough. In which case, I return to my previous statement that another RCF will beat the Alto all day long!

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1 hour ago, CameronJ said:

Tha’s fair enough. In which case, I return to my previous statement that another RCF will beat the Alto all day long!

Genuine Q - have you A/B'd the Alto and the RCF or are you going on reputation (and I agree RCF has a great reputation and our PA speakers have never let us down).

Reason for asking is that one of the guitarists I work with decided to go FRFR with his full fat Helix. We went to PMT Romford and he A/B'd Alto, Yamaha and QSC. He left with an...Alto (!) - neither of us could hear anything materially better with the two better known / more highly rated brands to justify the additional price.

But maybe the price difference is not reflected in sound but in the quality of components and reliability / longevity?

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Alto seem to be an odd brand, if you end up on German language PA sites there’s loads of folk who have taken them apart and they seem to have sometimes used fairly high end components in them

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1 hour ago, Al Krow said:

Genuine Q - have you A/B'd the Alto and the RCF or are you going on reputation (and I agree RCF has a great reputation and our PA speakers have never let us down).

Reason for asking is that one of the guitarists I work with decided to go FRFR with his full fat Helix. We went to PMT Romford and he A/B'd Alto, Yamaha and QSC. He left with an...Alto (!) - neither of us could hear anything materially better with the two better known / more highly rated brands to justify the additional price.

But maybe the price difference is not reflected in sound but in the quality of components and reliability / longevity?

Purely reputation. Though I’ll say that for a guitarists purposes, it’s almost difficult to make a bad PA speaker. Low end handling just isn’t a concern, and that’s where you’ll see the difference in brands and budget most quickly. Had you A/B’s the Alto, Yamaha and QSC speakers with any of your 5 string basses you would, I’m sure, have noticed a clearer difference.

Still, going back to the end purpose of the monitor for your band, if all that it’s needed for is Vox and the odd bit of acoustic geetar im sure you’ll be fine with near enough any PA speaker on the market - your existing compact Behringer being a prime example!

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41 minutes ago, LukeFRC said:

Alto seem to be an odd brand, if you end up on German language PA sites there’s loads of folk who have taken them apart and they seem to have sometimes used fairly high end components in them

That's reassuring!

i.e. 'odd' in the sense of 'unexpectedly good quality' for what they seem to be charging? 

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1 minute ago, Al Krow said:

That's reassuring!

i.e. 'odd' in the sense of 'unexpectedly good quality' for what they seem to be charging? 

A few years back I worked out that a secondhand alto powered speaker was the cheapest way to get my hands on a secondhand eminence 3012ho for a cab I never got around to planning the build for. Their poweramps back then used the same Powersoft class D modules as my Tecamp puma I had at the time...

however treat all the above as internet hearsay 

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Posted (edited)

Alto have recently released their 3 series, with a lot more headroom than the previous 2 series, which our dep guitarist went for in preference over Yamaha and QSC on value for money grounds. 

If Alto's quality of components is on a par as some of its peers, as Luke is implying (and I have no reason to doubt him!) then maybe RCF, Yamaha and QSC need to start looking over their shoulders :)

Edited by Al Krow

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1 minute ago, Al Krow said:

(and I have no reason to doubt him!

I would doubt me. 
Seriously - I don't know what I'm talking about. 


 

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BTW how are you outgrowing your current setup? 

I would look at using IEM. - if not for everyone then just the musicians where it would make the difference to bringing your foldback needs and volume down. 
 

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