Strother Bullins Reviews dbx DriveRack PA2 Loudspeaker Management System

Raises the performance capabilities of almost any live sound rig.
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This 1U unit is packed with features to significantly update any audio system via proprietary Harman room-sculpting DSP technology.

For those already invested in a non-DSP portable PA system—older powered systems or a component-based passive speaker/amp-based rig—dbx’s DriveRack PA2 ($399 street) is a boon. With stereo XLR inputs and stereo low, mid-and high-frequency XLR outs, the PA2 utilizes a front-panel RTA microphone input for simplified speaker leveling and room EQ via dbx’s Level Assist and AutoEQ Wizards for potential pro-level results.

Harman family member dbx touts the PA2’s simplicity for even novices, and I believe they are correct. With the PA2’s free DriveRack app—Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android OS ready—direct tweaking of compressor, graphic and parametric EQ, crossover and more settings are touch-adjustable and truly intuitive. On its front panel, these and other processes are accessible via button-push activation, including AFX Feedback Suppression, Delay, dbx’s 120A subharmonic synth, RTA, and more. See all the capabilities of the PA2 here: tinyurl.com/ostxuwf.

I employed the PA2 in a number of applications including typical portable PA live sound mixing, house of worship-based system wrangling, and investigative time during rehearsals, etc. In all, I found the PA2 a perfect pairing with a traditional-style analog mixer—in this case, a Mackie ProFXv2 Series mixer with built-in digital effects—which added much of the fine-tuning needed to push speaker performance to pro-rivaling results. I especially found the PA2 useful in the HOW environment; as many church-based operators are near-novices, an analog desk/PA2 pairing allows the best of both worlds—a simple, intuitive mixer for the user and deep processing for the unique demands in fixed installations with often less-than-ideal acoustic characteristics. The PA2 was also helpful when paired with a simple powered sub/full-range portable PA rig, too. Most notably, RTA Mic-enabled room EQ work makes everybody look good—the operator, the venue, and the musicians involved.

In summary, the DriveRack PA2 paired with essentially any tablet raises the bar, and performance capabilities, of nearly any live sound rig to results that sound far beyond a $399 investment.

PRODUCT SUMMARY

COMPANY: dbx | dbxpro.com
PRODUCT: dbx DriveRack PA2 Loudspeaker Management System
PROS: Comprehensive system tuning features, affordable, intuitive in operation
CONS: No included RTA microphone
APPLICATIONS: Installed sound in houses of worship/theater, mid-level club, and touring sound.
PRICE: $399 street, each

SPECIFICATIONS

INPUT: Dual XLR line, XLR RTA Mic input
A/D CONVERTER: dbx Type IV Conversion System
OUTPUT CONNECTORS: 6 Male XLR line
A/D DYNAMIC RANGE: 112dB A-weighted, 110dB unweighted
INPUT DELAY LENGTH: 100ms
SAMPLE RATE: 48kHz
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz–20kHz, +/- 0.5dB
UNIT WEIGHT: 5.25lbs.
DIMENSIONS: 1.75in. x 5.75in. x 19in.

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