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Storky

Need new P.A. speakers; seeking advice

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Time has come to get some new P.A. speakers:

 Four piece band, the P.A. just does 3x vox and a little keyboard here and there. We play social clubs and a few functions, so small to medium sized rooms up to 300 max (often less!)

I'm looking for something decent and have heard good things about RCF stuff. So powered with nice sound, compact as possible, flexible budget. 

Suggestions appreciated

 

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Alto TS range is pretty decent as is their mixer

Behringer X-Air is also a very decent mixer - Midas pre amps in it now so good for vocals etc.

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What are you replacing?  How loud is the band?  Where is your current PA disappointing you?  Will you be considering scaling up in future, i.e., fully micd band/kit?  What mics do you use?  Do you have a mixer you're happy with, or is that integrated into your current speaker setup? (perhaps you have a mixer-amp) What's your monitoring setup, and how well's it working for you?  What's your budget top end?

Answers to those questions might get you suitable responses than people just throwing names of kit they have have used.

And, based on the maxim of you can pick any two out of small, cheap, performance, we might be able to guide you suitably, based on your key criteria.

Edited by Alec
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48 minutes ago, Alec said:

What are you replacing?  How loud is the band?  Where is your current PA disappointing you?  Will you be considering scaling up in future, i.e., fully micd band/kit?  What mics do you use?  Do you have a mixer you're happy with, or is that integrated into your current speaker setup? (perhaps you have a mixer-amp) What's your monitoring setup, and how well's it working for you?  What's your budget top end?

Answers to those questions might get you suitable responses than people just throwing names of kit they have have used.

And, based on the maxim of you can pick any two out of small, cheap, performance, we might be able to guide you suitably, based on your key criteria.

Replacing a pair of 8 yr old Alto TS15s

Band is quite loud (approx 110db)

current speakers broken, so good opportunity to upgrade

not looking to upgrade in the foreseeable

Mics: Shure SM58 x 2 / Shure Beta x 1 

Yes, happy with current mixer

three individual monitors, (adequate but not great)

budget flexible (£400-£1500)

Thanks in anticipation 😁

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For conventional boxes, you shouldn't go far wrong with JBL, RCF, Mackie, HK, etc in the budget to mid-price bracket. Stick with established names. Guarantees, after-sales/repairs, etc are likely to be better, they will stand up to use and you will get a better price if you do sell them on.

To be honest, there are no real stand-out makes at most price points. It's a competitive market and all the companies are fighting to give you better bang for your buck. You really need to audition some, rather than buying on recommendation alone.

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I'd suggest that 15s are unnecessary for your situation, with kick & bass not going through the PA.  You'll likely find that a decent pair of 12s or even 10s will actually sound better for vocals than you've been experiencing - and you'll end up with a smaller/lighter pack.

You're aiming higher than the Alto TS, which is good.  They're "OK" if you're on a tight budget, but that's all.  Once purchased, you're unlikely to regret having stretched your budget for decent kit.  And don't forget to budget for soft covers - critical to look after your kit!

I've got a couple of RCF ART 722 and four ART 710.  To be honest, the 710s come out more often than the 722s, just because they're smaller.  Both pack quite a punch

Speakers worthy of consideration: Yamaha DSR112 (at the top end of your budget, but top notch, sadly no 10" option in the DSR range), Yamaha DXR12 & DXR10 (a step down from the DXRs, but highly capable), RCF ART 732 & 710.  The new Yamaha DZR range is a little nicer still than the DSR range, but creeps out of your budget.  All of these sound great, and have plenty of guts - and will be an easily noticeable improvement over your old Altos - night & day.  Above this, though, you're into some silly money, albeit even nicer performance.

Try and listen to some of these if you can.  They'll all do the job, but you'll be steered by your balance of ergonomics/sound/price.  If you want to hear some RCF ARTs in anger, I'm in Ware, Herts, if that's any use for you?

Also, while I can see the pressing need to replace broken FOH speakers, don't discount looking at your monitors at some point.  Do they do a good enough job for you.  And don't forget your mics, 58s do a job, but for many situations, there are better mics out there.

Edited by Alec

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44 minutes ago, Alec said:

I'd suggest that 15s are unnecessary for your situation, with kick & bass not going through the PA.  You'll likely find that a decent pair of 12s or even 10s will actually sound better for vocals than you've been experiencing - and you'll end up with a smaller/lighter pack.

You're aiming higher than the Alto TS, which is good.  They're "OK" if you're on a tight budget, but that's all.  Once purchased, you're unlikely to regret having stretched your budget for decent kit.

I've got a couple of RCF ART 722 and four ART 710.  To be honest, the 710s come out more often than the 722s, just because they're smaller.  Both pack quite a punch

Speakers worthy of consideration: Yamaha DSR112 (at the top end of your budget, but top notch, sadly no 10" option in the DSR range), Yamaha DXR12 & DXR10 (a step down from the DXRs, but highly capable), RCF ART 732 & 710.  The new Yamaha DZR range is a little nicer still than the DSR range, but creeps out of your budget.  All of these sound great, and have plenty of guts.  Above this, you're into some silly money, albeit even nicer performance.

Try and listen to some of these if you can.  They'll all do the job, but you'll be steered by your balance of ergonomics/sound/price.  If you want to hear some RCF ARTs in anger, I'm in Ware, Herts, if that's any use for you?

Also, while I can see the pressing need to replace broken FOH speakers, don't discount looking at your monitors at some point.  Do they do a good enough job for you.  And don't forget your mics, 58s do a job, but for many situations, there are better mics out there.

Thank you Alec, that’s all useful information. 

Thanks also to the other guys who have given an opinion; it’s much appreciated and will help inform my choice. Cheers!

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RCF 710 or 712 would be my call, or there are some good deals around on Yamaha DXR s at the moment with the mk2s coming out

QSC are expensive in Europe and imo no better than RCF

 

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3 hours ago, JohnA said:

RCF 710 or 712 would be my call, or there are some good deals around on Yamaha DXR s at the moment with the mk2s coming out

While the ART 712 is not bad, it's really worth spending the extra to go to the larger HF driver in the 732 (similar to what I have in the now discontinued 722) - and still within budget.  The extended response of the larger HF driver in the 732 brings the crossover frequency down from the 712's 1,600 Hz to 700 Hz, which makes it a peach for vocal reproduction - which is the target for this thread.  Not to mention a minor 2dB increase in max SPL.

I listened to a whole bunch of RCF ART speakers when I bought mine, and the difference between the two 12" models was quite clear.  Quite a price hike, mind, but well worth spending.

From a quick look on eBay, if the location was any good for you and if you're happy with used, I'd jump on some ART 722s at only £300 each including bags like a shot: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/RCF-ART722-A-Active-Speaker/163809337709

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In your price bracket I don't think you can really beat RCF at the moment. I did a back to back comparison of many of the main contenders a couple of years ago and the RCF's were just much better at rendering vocals. I think they just seem to have handled the crossover points better and that often sits in crucial parts of the vocals. Our band have QSC 12's and they are as good (maybe the top end is a little harsh) but more expensive. I think Alec's recommendation of the ART 732's is spot on but have a look at the 735's too they are quite light and the little extra bass might help the keys at times and give you the option of adding a bit more kick and bass if you did need it.

FWIW as you aren't looking at monitors at the moment I use RCF ART310's as floor monitors and they are spot on, the improved clarity and well behaved response give us quite a few more dB's before feedback as well as a very competent PA at smaller gigs.

I've heard the FBT's sounding very good live recently, just haven't had a chance to A/B them.

I'm underwhelmed by the Yamaha's personally (good quality speakers but just lack that detail in the vocals and the bass is just a shade woolly for me) JBL's sound a bit 'disco' to me which is hard to dial out but there is such good value out there at the moment it's hard to go completely wrong 

Hopefully EBSFreak will be along soon who's knowledge is more up to date than mine.

Edited by Phil Starr

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6 hours ago, Alec said:

While the ART 712 is not bad, it's really worth spending the extra to go to the larger HF driver in the 732 (similar to what I have in the now discontinued 722) - and still within budget.  The extended response of the larger HF driver in the 732 brings the crossover frequency down from the 712's 1,600 Hz to 700 Hz, which makes it a peach for vocal reproduction - which is the target for this thread.  Not to mention a minor 2dB increase in max SPL.

I listened to a whole bunch of RCF ART speakers when I bought mine, and the difference between the two 12" models was quite clear.  Quite a price hike, mind, but well worth spending.

From a quick look on eBay, if the location was any good for you and if you're happy with used, I'd jump on some ART 722s at only £300 each including bags like a shot: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/RCF-ART722-A-Active-Speaker/163809337709

Agree, if the 722s are in budget you would be better off with those, fantastic speakers

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If you have a healthy budget up to £1500, I would recommend a pair of 735As above absolutely anything else in the market for the same price. Here's why -

1. 3" VC in the horn - lower crossover means the horn is doing more of the lifting work for the vocals. Don't be mistaken that horns are hissy thing meant for very high treble... a quality horn does a lot of the heavy lifting for frequencies in the vocal range. The result is, the vocals will more easily be able to be projected with those particular RCFs than from competitor speakers. You simply don't get 3" VC horns in ABS plastic boxes - and even in wooden boxes, you'll likely to be paying more like 2k a box to get a 3" horn. RCF are out there on their own with these speakers.

2. The horn enables the woofer to be freed up to concentrate on the lower frequencies... So putting bass drums, keys (with some serious low end too) through them - and bass - is not a struggle. You say that you only put a bit of keys and vocals through them... but if you keep your onstage volumes low, put everything through the PA, then you as a band collectively will sound better. Problems like guitar cabs being highly directional get eradicated. (Think about when you've seen a band play and you stand in front of the guitar players cab... you'll get deafened. Stand on the other side of the stage, you won't hear it... Going through the PA, helps disperse the sound evenly so wherever you are in the venue, you'll have a balanced sound).

3. These boxes are good enough to do most venues without subs. You need a lot of power, especially between the 100-400hz range to give things warmth otherwise your band can sound thin and tinny. They'll also give you enough in the 50-70 Hz range to thump out some kick drum (and the rest of the kit for that matter).

Ultimately, I would urge you to go for the above and bring your volumes down and let the PA do the work. The 735A will easily enable you to run a silent stage even - and replace your backline altogether. Again, this will make your band sound better. The key thing is, keep your on stage volumes low and invest in those FoH speakers.

If you are stuck in your ways... or if you want a more portable solution, than the compromise is the 732A. You'll lose the ability to get big bass (and I know the voice in your head is already saying "but my bass amp can do the bass" - it can - but that is also swamping the rest of the stage and flooding into the open mics that are placed in front of it...). The key figure is the middle 3 though... your vocals really will sing with that 3"VC horn. 

I'd use the opportunity of decent FoH speakers to make your band sound better. A lot of bands FoH speakers won't give them that sort of opportunity as they can't handle the full range of frequencies at a significant volume without sounding pants.

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9 hours ago, Alec said:

Not to mention a minor 2dB increase in max SPL.

That's not really minor... considering that running two 712s together would yield a 3dB gain in SPL. A single 732 giving you 2dB over a single 712 is quite some increase in SPL.

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17 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

That's not really minor... considering that running two 712s together would yield a 3dB gain in SPL. A single 732 giving you 2dB over a single 712 is quite some increase in SPL.

I'll always take more headroom, with the obvious variability of different manufacturers' SPL figures.

But 2dB really isn't a massive difference.  Noticeable, but not huge.

And, of course, you'd be daft to run two speakers just to get more SPL, it's all about improving coverage.

And, back on topic on the 12s for vocal only or 15s for a full band mix - not all bands are prepared to go for the hassle of a full PA mix.  An awful lot of pub bands have the simplest of analog mixers driving their vocal only PA.  Yes, it might not be the best solution for the best sound, but to go to a full PA involved a new level of kit cost, setup effort, and mix/playing ability - plus transport logistics.  I'm happiest in a big venue, with a fully micd/DId band, but for many pubs it's overkill and the compromise of a vocal only PA plus backline is a winner.  There's also the fact that space can be at a massive premium in many small venues, so much that cab size makes a genuine difference.

We're aligned on being impressed by those bigger HF drivers in the higher end ART speakers, though.  They're corkers, aren't they!

Though, in their 15" world, the ART 745 takes the biscuit, with its 1.4" HF driver with a 4" voice coil, using a crossover frequency of 650 Hz, compared with the 735's 800 Hz.  It's quite the beast.  But also in size - which rules out any of their 15" cabs for my car-based logistics, regardless of performance.

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26 minutes ago, Alec said:

And, of course, you'd be daft to run two speakers just to get more SPL, it's all about improving coverage.

Same applies to bass guitar cabs - but don't tell anybody.

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1 hour ago, Alec said:

And, back on topic on the 12s for vocal only or 15s for a full band mix - not all bands are prepared to go for the hassle of a full PA mix.  An awful lot of pub bands have the simplest of analog mixers driving their vocal only PA.  Yes, it might not be the best solution for the best sound, but to go to a full PA involved a new level of kit cost, setup effort, and mix/playing ability - plus transport logistics.  I'm happiest in a big venue, with a fully micd/DId band, but for many pubs it's overkill and the compromise of a vocal only PA plus backline is a winner.  There's also the fact that space can be at a massive premium in many small venues, so much that cab size makes a genuine difference.

And this is where bands are making life difficult for themselves. It's not really a hassle. There's a comparable amount of cables in play.. especially if you are talking about plugging amps into the mains and plugging speakers into heads.

 

2x735A = £1500

1x Behringer XR18 = £370 (or RCF M18 for a similar price... or even a XR16 if you don't need the extra 2 auxes)

1x Behringer P2 + 1x ZS10 per player (80 quid each)

1x kick mic = AKG £65

1x overheads = Behringer C2- £35

So for a four piece band - (assuming 4 players) - 

£1970

 

Allowing £500 for cables, stands, IEMs etc... (In reality, I guess this figure could be closer to £300 depending upon how much of a cable/stand tart you are)

All the above would fit in one average car easily... and with guitars and a bass.

 

No bass amp or cab.

No guitar amp or cab - Assuming your guitarist goes into the XR18 amp emulator... or gets a pedal emulator... but even so the L6 Stomp is going to sound better in all environments because it doesn't care about being driven in a sweet spot.

There's two big lumps that have been taken off stage... what was this about space being a premium? (Of course, the speakers out front are going to be there whatever... so the net result is that you've gained space for the band.

Of course, less bleed into the mics, better sound out front - no dead spots out front where the guitar is either blasting your head off - or simply not there.

I'd say the above is far more portable... and comes with a decent monitoring solution. No wedges to lug about... and you are going to sound better out front and be able to hear and run a monitor at sensible volumes so you won't go deaf. If anything, this is more suited to a pub setup than anything else!

Edited by EBS_freak

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Great advice, thanks guys!

If it were down to me alone, I’d want to put the whole band through the P.A., go down the 735 route and get rid of the back line; but there is zero interest from the others in the band to do that. So I’ve taken Alec’s advice and jumped on the 722s! I’m picking them up this afternoon.

its a slight compromise, but I think it makes sense in the band as it is. I’m looking forward to getting them and will gig them in a duo side project this weekend! It should be good!

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10 hours ago, Storky said:

If it were down to me alone, I’d want to put the whole band through the P.A., go down the 735 route and get rid of the back line; but there is zero interest from the others in the band to do that. So I’ve taken Alec’s advice and jumped on the 722s! I’m picking them up this afternoon.

And that can be one of the challenges that can over-rule the "best" solution - disinterest from some members of the band.  Not to mention needing someone to manage the mix - it's bread and butter to me, and likely to EBS_freak, but many people struggle with setting up and operating 2 vocal mics.  Removing backline is a *huge* culture shift for many players, and frequently a step too far, and needs great monitoring to work.

Glad those bargain 722s turned up.  At that price, assuming they're in the good condition they look to be, you've got a screaming bargain - about a third of the new price I paid donkeys years ago.  Hoping you'll find them night and day compared with your old Altos.  Wonder if you'll go back and buy a couple more for monitors... 😉

Again, let us know how you get on.

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