D.A.S. Audio Artec 510 ReviewA second-generation series adds self-powered speakers to the all-passive line. 7/24/2013 12:49 PM Eastern
D.A.S. Audio Artec 510 Review
Jul 24, 2013 4:49 PM, Reviewer: John McJunkin
A second-generation series adds self-powered speakers to the all-passive line.
Spain’s D.A.S. Audio offers a broad array of excellent speakers, amplifiers, and processors to serve nearly every imaginable sound reinforcement or contractor application, and they’ve recently introduced a second-generation revision of its Artec 500 series. This series has typically been deployed in nightclub, lounge, and restaurant applications, but the line is versatile enough for interior use in applications as far-flung as amusement parks, public buildings, house of worship, and even some retail purposes. In addition to these fixed installation uses, these speakers were also designed for use in portable applications, and would be very useful to mobile DJs, sound reinforcement providers, and hotel AV where speakers are used on a temporary basis. The introduction of this second generation, which adds self-powered speakers to the originally all-passive line that yields even more versatility, strongly appeals to me. I have reached the conclusion that unless it’s absolutely necessary or specifically requested by the client, I’ll invariably use powered speakers. I would much rather avoid lugging separate amplifiers when I can.
An Artec 510, which is based on a 10in. low-frequency driver and 1in. high-frequency compression driver, was sent to me for evaluation. There are a total of four different full-range driver configurations available in the line, all with 1in. high-frequency compression drivers. The smallest is the 506, with a 6in. low-frequency driver, followed by the 526, with two 6in. low-frequency drivers; the 508, with a single 8in. low-frequency driver; and the aforementioned 510. There is also a subwoofer available, the S15, based on a 15in. low-frequency driver. Every one of these models has a self-powered counterpart, designated by the addition of an “A” in the model name: 506A, 526A, 508A, 510A, and S15A. There are 10 total speakers available in the line, covering a broad spectrum of applications. The listener-facing surface of the 506/506A is only 15’’x7.7’’, perfect for truss or surface mounting near the ceiling in PA/paging applications in pubs, restaurants, or public buildings. The larger units are useful for similar applications that require more SPL, or dance floor use in club settings. Since the entire line is remarkably lightweight, all can be used in speaker-on-a-stick arrangements, as well, which is particularly useful for all portable applications. The breadth of options makes this line very useful for a broad range of uses.
The basic physical topology of these speakers is trapezoidal (with the obvious exception of the subwoofer, which is roughly a cube, 21in. on a side). The enclosure is constructed of Baltic birch, and is heavily braced internally, yielding a very sturdy and rigid box. This rigidity makes a remarkable difference in a speaker’s capacity to reproduce sound with a high degree of fidelity. Inexpensive plastic speakers flex and vibrate substantially with low-frequency energy, deforming the enclosure and compromising the reproduction. The front grille wraps around the front of the enclosure on the horizontal plane. It is not extremely heavy gauge steel, but it’s substantial enough to protect the drivers effectively. Behind it is a grille with a mesh that’s quite open compared to tightly woven grille cloth. A logo badge is in a concave indentation near the bottom of the grille (in vertical orientation). Without actually disassembling the unit, I’m certain that the badge can be removed after removing the grille. It would be nice if removing the badge were a slightly less complex production, but this is no deal-breaker by any stretch.
The sides of the enclosure are featureless, and the top and bottom each have two M10 suspension points, with a pull-back M10 at bottom on the rear surface. There are also U-brackets and wall mounts to facilitate placement of the speaker in nearly any location and orientation you deem necessary. The high-frequency driver/horn cannot be rotated to reorient the 110 degree x50 degree dispersion pattern for your application, but the cabinets are not that large, and can be mounted whichever way is necessary. A pole socket is located on the bottom for speaker-on-a-stick applications. There’s a hand-hold on the back, making the speaker easy to pick up and move around. Below that is a recessed metal rectangle, which houses the speaker’s inputs, two NL4 Speakon connectors (looped, in the case of the passive units), looped XLR connectors, and an IEC power inlet in the case of the powered speakers. The subwoofer has a pair of looped I/O, and the powered version of it takes its AC via PowerCon. The speakers are available in black or white, and are painted with a textured polyurethane paint that looks quite tough to my eye.
The Artec 510 I evaluated featured a 10in. low-frequency driver, which presumably leverages a pretty large magnet, based on D.A.S.’ warning to keep the speakers away from hard drives and other magnetic media. The M-60N 1in. high-frequency compression driver also features a substantial neodymium magnet to deliver the highs. Power handling for the passive units is 400W RMS and 1600W peak. I powered my evaluation speaker with a 1000W amplifier, impedance-matched at 8Ω. The full-range models are bi-amplified by a 720W Class D amplifier, and a 2000W Class D amplifier powers the subwoofer. Certainly, the decision to utilize the Class D topology was heavily influenced by a strong desire to keep the weight of the speakers down, and as a fan of powered loudspeakers, I appreciate this. The 510A powered speaker is only 4.5 lbs. heavier than the 510 passive version I evaluated. Lightweight is a good thing, particularly when the speaker can deliver solid SPL and high fidelity.
D.A.S.’ specification sheet for the Artec 510 shows a frequency range of 45Hz to 20kHz (at 10dB down), and based subjectively on my listening, I would confirm this. I would guess the -3dB point at around 55Hz, and the 0dB crossing at around 60Hz to 65Hz. Certainly, the smaller speakers provide less low end as they go down in size, so the subwoofer becomes a virtual necessity. But the 510 may provide enough lows for many applications—and considering size and weight, this impresses and pleases me. The high-frequency driver sounds good. It’s bright, and as it is my preference to cut with EQ rather than boost, this suits me fine. The response is reasonably flat, and the crossover point is not obvious. There’s plenty of SPL, with a rating of 128dB peak, and it’s clean—no obvious distortion. I brought a 15in. subwoofer into the picture, and with a little tweaking, I was very happy with what I heard top to bottom of the spectrum. The dispersion pattern is well-defined. So presumably, a pair of these speakers would deliver a clear, obvious stereo image.
The D.A.S. Artec 510 passive trapezoidal loudspeaker is versatile and provides high-quality reproduction at substantial SPLs without distortion. It’s light in weight, sturdily built, can be oriented for nearly any application, and is aesthetically pleasing. It’s a great speaker. Add in internal amplification, and it becomes absolutely marvelous. Contractors, integrators, and sound reinforcement professionals should all take a listen.
Pros: Excellent quality, plenty of SPL despite light weight
Cons: Horn cannot be rotated, logo badge not easily removed
Applications: Portable and fixed installations, restaurant, nightclub, AV
RMS Power Handling: 400W
Peak Power Handling: 1600W
Frequency Range (-10dB): 45Hz to 20kHz
Nominal Impedance: 8Ω
On-Axis Sensitivity (1W/1m): 96dB SPL
Rate Peak SPL at 1 meter: 128dB
Enclosure Material: Birch Plywood
Color/Finish: Black or white polyurethane paint
Connectors: 2 x NL4 Speakon
Dimensions (H x W x D): 23.8’’x11.4’’x13.6’’
John McJunkin is the principal of Avalon Podcasting in Chandler, Ariz., and produces and co-hosts a top-rated morning radio talk show in Phoenix. He has consulted in the development of studios and installations, and provides high-quality podcast and voice production services.