Loudspeakers

TECHNOLOGY SHOWCASE: Portable PAs

7/19/2016 12:25 AM Eastern
TAKE AWAY

When looking for a portable speaker, there are several considerations—how much the unit weighs, how easy it is to transport, whether the output and dispersion is sufficient for the application, and sometimes even the connections or wireless options. Some modern speakers are equipped with Bluetooth technology, onboard wireless microphones, and Dante network connections. Many speakers are being offered in line-array configurations while others are coaxial or traditional two-ways. We’ve included a range of professional examples and a couple of unique specialty speakers.

Alto Professional's Black Series includes 10in., 12in., 15in. two-ways, a 15in. sub, and an 18in. sub all at 2400W (1200W continuous power), and all with wireless connectivity for sound-shaping control. The 12in. speaker hosts a 12in. low-frequency driver, a 1.75in. high-frequency driver with a 1in. acoustic aperture, and a dispersion of 90°x60°. Flyable with M10 mounting points and mountable to stand and pole offers versatile uses. Alto Professional’s Live Drive wireless speaker app for iOS allows control over levels, EQ adjustment, compression, and time alignment. At a reasonable $599 a pair, the robust plywood frame and steel grille enclosed in an anti-scuff coating ensures a solid housing for the unit.

The Bigfoot system by Anchor Audio is an all-inclusive sound system powered by rechargeable batteries lasting up to eight hours. The speaker was designed to cover a football field powered by 400W output and measuring 130dB SPL. Housed in a UV resistant enclosure and mounted atop of two rugged, heavy-duty 8in. rolling wheels, the Bigfoot becomes an easy travel companion ready to withstand the outdoor environment. This portable system offers Anchor’s first built-in UHF 16-channel wireless receivers and also includes Bluetooth ability, a 3.5mm connection, and an optional built-in CD/MP3 combo player. Enclosed in the cabinet are five 8in. neodymium woofers and a high-efficiency compression driver. This unit does not require a stand. Simply unfold the unit to its full height. Bigfoot weighs in at 75lbs. and stands 68.6in. tall when open.

Utilizing Bose FLEX array technology, the F1 Model 812 loudspeakers from Bose house an array of eight Bose proprietary 2.25in. drivers and a high-powered 12in. woofer. Included are M8 mounting points in addition to three dedicated brackets for easy mounting with pan and tilt yoke and U-brackets available. The F1 Flexible Array Loudspeaker products have expanded to include a passive model ideal for portable and installed applications. The F1 Model 812 is the first portable loudspeaker boasting the FLEX array technology, which allows installers to adjust the sound dispersion using four different patterns without moving the speaker. A powered 1000W F1 subwoofer can be added when extended bass response is needed. The system (loudspeaker and subwoofer) can be easily                                   and quickly broken down, transported, and set up.

Cerwin-Vega’s P1000X is a two-way biamped full-range bass-reflex speaker featuring a 10in. low-frequency driver and a 1.75in. high-frequency driver in a polypropylene cabinet powered by a Class-D amp providing 1000W of peak power. The speaker comes complete with a built-in mixer including enhanced EQ, Vega Bass boost and high-pass filters. The P1000X can be used as a single speaker for small venues, set in pairs, or installed utilizing the threaded hang points. It can also be combined with Cerwin-Vega’s P1800SX to fit larger spaces needing more coverage and volume. This unit also works as a stage monitor. This model was reviewed by SVC in the June 2015 issue.

The Envoi by Denon, weighing in at 41lbs., is a two-way, full-range 120W RMS/AC or 80W RMS/DC battery-powered speaker system that can operate up to 12 hours off the rechargeable battery. The speaker has a frequency response of 55Hz to 20kHz through a 1in. compression driver and a 10in. woofer. The onboard connections include a USB port and an SD Card slot for FAT16/32, MP3, and WMA playback, 3.5mm aux input, a wireless microphone operating in 584-608 frequency range, and Bluetooth sync for wireless playback. The Envoi can be mounted onto a pole and paired with another speaker via 1/4in. output. Finished with a storage compartment for up to two microphones and a two-wheel system with retractable handle adds to the easy transportability for the lightweight and compact system.

Electro-Voice’s EKX line is designed with DJs, musicians, and live/club applications in mind. Including EV’s exclusive single-knob QuickSmartDSP, Signal Synchronized Transducers waveguide design, and Cardioid Control Technology for subwoofers. The EKX deliver up to 131dB peak SPL (on 12in. passive model). The EKX series includes four passive and four active models—a 12in. and 15in. two-way model and a 15in. and 18in. subwoofer. The 12in. speakers sport eight M10 mounting points and have a dispersion spread of 90°x60°. The housing is made of plywood with EVCoat and faced with a steel grille and weighs in at only 39lbs. This model was reviewed by SVC in the January 2016 issue.

At $199, the ION Block Rocker Bluetooth IPA56C is powered with 50W of power, an 8in. woofer and a 3in. wide-dispersion tweeter providing a frequency response of 65Hz to 20kHz. The unit comes with Easy Pair to link a smartphone via Bluetooth and provides play/pause and track buttons for easy control. Also included is a microphone, AM/FM radio with 12 presets, a USB port, and a 3.5mm aux input for other audio devices. The ION is powered by a rechargeable battery lasting up to 50 hours.

JBL delivers the EON ONE as a compact, column-style look featuring Bluetooth audio and a 6-channel mixer providing a way to interface microphones, instruments, and other sources directly to the speaker. Designed for the gigging musicians and DJs, small venues, and corporate environments, the EON ONE is an all-in-one linear-array PA system. Spacers are provided to allow the user to alter the setup from a long throw for live performances and larger crowds to conferences and medium-size groups, as well as an option to place the high-frequency section directly on the base unit for intimate events. The EON ONE is comprised of six 2in. high-frequency drivers and a 10in. bass-reflex subwoofer.

Mackie’s portable SRM series includes the 1000W 450 and 350 models with an automatic feedback destroyer, single-button speaker mode switch, and built-in 2-channel mixer. The 350 model houses a 10in. high-output, low-frequency driver while the 450 houses a 12in. high-output, low-frequency driver, and both have a 1.4in. titanium dome compression driver inside of a polypropylene cabinet and metal water-resistant grille. Both models include a RCA input for connecting to a music source easily. The Smart Protect DSP is designed to protect the speaker from being driven too hard. A widely used and affordable option. A 1200W SRM1550 subwoofer can be added to the 15in. and 12in. models.

The Mackie Reach is an all-in-one professional PA system with ultra-wide coverage and built-in personal monitoring. Features include Bluetooth music streaming, a full-featured 6-channel digital mixer, and a comprehensive wireless control app for iOS and Android. Supporting technology includes ARC (Amplified Radial Curve) array, which utilizes three horizontally angled high-frequency drivers paired with dual vertically spaced high-output, low-frequency drivers, providing 150 degrees of coverage for audiences spread over a wide or deep area. The built-in EarShot personal monitoring system provides an independent, configurable, full-range driver on each side of the speaker, giving performers flexible stage monitoring without additional speakers and cables. The Mackie Connect app supports control functions from levels, EQ, and FX to sound-enhancing tools like a feedback destroyer. This product was reviewed by SVC in the January 2016 issue.

Inclusive of three powered full-range models and two subwoofers, Martin Audio’s CDD-Live! series is designed for live bands, DJs, and corporate events, as well as installations in dance clubs, ballrooms, theaters, and performing arts venues. The coaxial speaker cleans up uneven frequency response at the crossover region and covers a room more evenly than typical fixed-dispersion horns by providing a 3D trapezoid pattern differential dispersion horn instead. The system has three plug-and-play factory presets for full-range, stage monitor, and operation with subs along with a user defined preset. The CDD-Live! systems are Dante enabled allowing for many configurations with front-of-house live sound or installations with multiple zones, storing the system configuration in the DSP of the speaker. Offering 12in. and 15in. models, both can be paired with either the CSX-Live! 118 or 218 subwoofer. The CDD-Live! speakers can be installed with wall mounts, U brackets, or yoke assemblies, as well as pole mount and eyebolt hang point options.

From MIPRO comes the MA-708, a compact and lightweight portable wireless system. The two-way loudspeaker is designed for public address solutions for medium to large crowds integrating a wireless microphone system, CD, USB, and Bluetooth players. The speaker can handle up to four receivers with the “Scan & ACT” sync button for fast channel setup and one audio player. A rechargeable battery can be added as an accessory and various wireless modules can be purchased and swapped, as well.

Breaking from the traditional loudspeaker paradigm, all QSC K Series full-range models (K8, K10, K12) have identical 1.75in. high-frequency (HF) devices. DSP includes several QSC-specific technologies: Directivity Matched Transition (DMT) provides for matched LF and HF coverage; Intrinsic Correction maps 65-75 spatially-averaged measurements to IIR and FIR filters that actively adjust time, frequency, and amplitude response to a maximally flat band pass target; DEEP and excursion limiting allow for extended low-frequency response; and GuardRail protection protects from clipping. Combo XLR and 1/4in. TRS inputs accept both mic and line level input; RCA phono inputs (except KSub) support portable MP3 and CD players and line-level mixers. Up to three audio sources can be mixed internally and summed to a balanced output for daisy-chaining of multiple units. Separate direct outputs are also provided on each channel. A rear-panel LED switch provides options for monitor lights; stiff, light ABS enclosures have integral suspension options and optional yoke mounts.

The EVOX 8 from RCF is powered by a 700W RMS amplifier and made up of a 12in. subwoofer with a satellite module of eight 2in. full-range compression drivers. The speaker is designed with portability and easy set-up in mind and offers an optional cover accessory to store all the system components in. The array design throws a constant horizontal directivity coverage of 120° with a vertical array of 30°. With dimensions of 11.6in. x 13.6in. x 19.3in. and weighing in at 51lbs., the compact speaker is capable of reaching 128dB max SPL and a frequency response of 40Hz-20kHz. Also available are the EVOX 5 (10in. subwoofer and satellite module of five 2in. full-range drivers powered by a 400W amp) and the latest edition EVOX 12 (15in. subwoofer with satellite module of eight 4in. full-range drivers powered by a 700W amp).

With the latest additions to the STAGEPAS line, Yamaha adds the 400i and 600i, both featuring a lightweight speaker and detachable powered mixer. At 400W for the 400i and 680W for the 600i, this speaker provides an increase in power output with new high-efficiency amplifiers. There are iPod/iPhone connections, two phantom-powered option channels, onboard SPX reverb and feedback suppressor, and selectable shelving EQs preparing the user for a wide range of applications. The system can be expanded by accompanying the DXR and DXS series. Plugging in a subwoofer will automatically assign a high-pass filter to the STAGEPAS speakers. The speakers sport a 90°x 60° dispersion. These systems come complete with speaker cables and a power cord. These products were reviewed by SVCin the December 2015 issue.

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