Review: Community Professional DS Series Speakers

Quality surface-mount speakers for the commercial market. 2/10/2012 11:59 AM Eastern

Review: Community Professional DS Series Speakers

Feb 10, 2012 4:59 PM, Reviewer: John McJunkin

Quality surface-mount speakers for the commercial market.

In most commercial applications, music is considered a background element, so the bandwidth of the speakers has usually focused on the midrange and high end in order to maximize the clarity of the human voice for paging and announcements. For aesthetic reasons, small speakers are desirable, which works out nicely since small speakers can reproduce the mids and highs necessary to present the human voice. The main frequency domain most neglected by typical commercial loudspeakers is the low end, which requires large drivers, resulting in bulky enclosures, which are likely less than desirable from an aesthetic standpoint. The accuracy of reproduction has also traditionally been a secondary concern, most likely the result of, yes, budget considerations.

Fast-forward to the present day: As with all professional audio products, commercial audio has evolved, constantly raising the bar of what’s possible in the sonic realm. Clients recognize that high-quality sound is an area that can incrementally distinguish their establishment from competitors, and manufacturers are responding with increasingly improved speakers.

Community Professional Loudspeakers has introduced its DS series surface-mount speakers to meet the demand for high-quality units that are aesthetically pleasing, not bulky, and capable of delivering full-bandwidth sound with good accuracy. I evaluated a pair of the company’s DS5 full-range coaxial speakers, along with a DS8SUB subwoofer—essentially a 2.1 satellite configuration.

Upon unboxing them, I was somewhat taken aback by the speakers’ weight. Community does not publish the unit weight, but I weighed the DS5s at 10.2lbs. and the DS8SUB at 23lbs. For compact speakers, this is quite a bit of mass densely concentrated in a small volume. I generally presume two causes for heavier speakers like this: quality enclosure construction and/or large magnets on the LF drivers. The DS series cabinets are formed of thick-wall, internally reinforced ABS plastic, the strength and solidity of which is intended to reduce resonances, as is the rounding of the external corners of the enclosures, which also contributes to their sturdiness. The weight of these speakers is not a deal-breaker for me, since they’re intended for installation and not portable use. I appreciate the solid construction of the enclosures and the mounting hardware. The enclosures are available in black or white, but they also can be painted to blend in.

The cabinet conforms to Mil Spec 810 humidity, salt spray, temperature, and UV exposure. The speaker enclosure itself has an ingress protection rating of IP55, meaning that it’s dust-protected and safe from water jets in any direction—very substantial protection. The enclosures employ a ball-joint-type mount, which I found to work very well. A safety cable loop is also employed to keep the speaker from tumbling down in the very unlikely case of a mount failure of some kind. The mount incorporates Euroblock speaker connections enclosed by an IP56-rated cover (safe from powerful water jets) to protect the connections from the elements and maintain an aesthetic appearance. A two-pin male connection plugs into the speaker, and a four-terminal connector brings the signal in from your network. The extra two terminals facilitate tidy loop-through connections for distributed systems. The speaker’s sturdy metal grille features a Community brand badge. Pulling the badge from the grille reveals the speaker’s rotary power-tap selection switch. A minimum of three different taps is available in each of 70V and 100V systems, ranging from 7.5W to 60W in the DS5, and 25W to 200W in the DS8SUB. 8Ω impedance is also available for traditional amplification.

The DS5 is rated to handle 100W continuous power, 250W program, over a range of 65Hz to 22kHz, with a sensitivity of 93dB SPL (1W/1m). The DS8SUB is rated to handle 200W continuous power, 500W program, over a range of 42Hz to 200Hz, with a sensitivity of 88dB SPL (1/W1m). The published frequency range represents the 10dB-down points, and I would submit that my ears confirmed this. I would guess the 0dB numbers are probably more like 100Hz to 20kHz for the DS5, and 60Hz to 300Hz for the DS8SUB. Bear in mind that these are my approximations; I did not analyze the speakers subjectively. I appreciate when manufacturers publish honest specifications that don’t insult one’s intelligence, and Community is being truthful with these numbers.

Review: Community Professional DS Series Speakers

Feb 10, 2012 4:59 PM, Reviewer: John McJunkin

Quality surface-mount speakers for the commercial market.

I put quite a few different kinds of signals through the system to get a handle on how they sound. I listened to a variety of classical, pop, and rock recordings from various eras, and the only processing I applied was equalization—primarily the light scooping of mids. I also listened to some straight-up human speech to get an idea of performance in paging and announcement operation. My impression was that the frequency response of the entire system presents a broad bump over the midrange, and I would attribute this to two things: the prominence of the DS5’s LF driver, and the lack of speaker management processing in my listening process. Listening to these speakers, I’m very certain that proper equalization and dynamics processing would facilitate great-sounding and smooth energy dispersion over the entire frequency range. Another minor issue that would be resolved by such processing is the relative weakness of the subwoofer in comparison to the full-range speaker with equal power applied to each. For that matter, a completely separate amplifier would also help to solve the issue.

Otherwise, the full-range speaker has a broad dispersion pattern, covering a wide area, particularly if mounted 10ft. to 12ft. above the floor in a downward-firing orientation. The high end is clean and otherwise unremarkable—definitely not harsh or splatty, even with a substantial EQ bump. This is important in a speaker used for paging and announcements—the intelligibility frequencies in the 1kHz-2kHz range need to be somewhat pronounced, but with no distortion or brittleness, and these speakers definitely pull it off. At higher SPLs I heard some distortion, as you would expect in a coaxial two-way system. My overall perception if one of smooth, clear reproduction across the frequency spectrum; with some moderate speaker processing—EQ and dynamics—a really clear and musically pleasing signal that will please your clients and their customers can be presented at good solid SPLs. And considering the quality of these speakers, I am truly amazed at the pricing as well. If you’re in the market for good-quality surface-mount speakers, these should be on your short list.

Product Summary

Company: Community Professional Loudspeakers

Product: DS5 and DS8SUB

Pros: Excellent price/performance ratio

Cons: Substantial weight

Applications: Swimming pools, sports facilities, fitness clubs, houses of worship, retail, cruise ships, educational, corporate AV, bars and restaurants

Price: $165 (DS5), $332 (DS8SUB)


Loudspeaker Type:

Full-range coax: 5in. standard

Operating range (±10dB): 65Hz-22kHz

Max input power rating (continuous/program): 100W/250W

Sensitivity (1W/1M): 93dB SPL

Available 70V Taps (watts): 60-30-15-7.5

Nominal impedance:Dimensions (excluding IAB bracket): 12.9”x6.3”x7.5” (HxWxD)

Subwoofer: 8in. subwoofer

Operating range (±10dB): 42Hz-200Hz

Max input power rating (continuous/program): 200W/500W

Sensitivity (1W/1M): 88dB SPL

Available 70V Taps (watts): 200-100-50-25

Nominal impedance:

Dimensions (excluding IAB bracket): 18.5”x9”x10.1” (HxWxD)

John McJunkin is the principal of Avalon Podcasting in Chandler, Ariz. He has consulted in the development of studios and installations and provides high-quality podcast-production services.

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