• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Looking to build a small PA systems for parties

CapMan

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 18, 2022
Messages
1,003
Likes
1,703
Location
London
Our band used one of these


And and a pair of passive EV SX300 passive speakers.


Really great PA sound
 

ocinn

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2022
Messages
362
Likes
887
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Its possible to build active amp racks at relatively low cost with considerable DSP capability and output power using used install DSPs such as the Biamp Tesira and Chinese amps such as those made by Admark and Gisen. Using two 4ch amps and a DSP you can make a rack with 8 multi thousand watt amplifier channels for ~1500usd . You then have everything you need to drive speakers such as the Syntripp and PM60/90 and subwoofers such as the TH-18 . Its a lot of work to build all this stuff but you would get a very capable and expandable system within your budget.

Please let me know how you are getting a Biamp Tesira, 8x1000w of amps, all the cabling (remember you need to convert at least 10 Phoenix block connectors to XLR), a rack, power distribution, a measurement mic, and a laptop to setup and tune for $1500.

Also FYI there is a reason Biamp products are used in permanent install corporate applications and not live sound. They are incredibly finicky and tedious to configure, as well as do not have latency-prioritized filtering like Marani, Linea etc... have. I have an old Forte I got from my friend who was doing a demolition (lol) and I spent like $100 to make xlr adapters, tried it once at a freelance gig, and it has sat in a drawer ever since. There is a reason CI processors are a dime a dozen: supply and demand.

Also, those Aliexpress Lab-Gruppen clones are only really suitable for subwoofer use. Pretty horrific higher frequency performance. Plenty of measurements on Avsforum and DIYaudio. They are also around $1000, each, landed in the USA, and about 2x overrated continuous power output.

By the time you search the used marketplace for used corporate AV gear, wait 3 months for your lab-gruppen clones to show up, spend 24/7 studying loudspeaker design and optimization, have the cnc shop machine the SynTripp throat adapter and woofer phase plugs, build everything, wait for all these parts to arrive, spend ages tuning and tweaking, you would have spent 3x as much money and 20x as much time as the guy who just bought a used Martin CDD-Live or Yamaha DZR Rig, hell he probably could have gotten a Meyer X40 or Danley setup, possibly even dipped his toes into used D&B Audiotechnik,.

I'm all for DIY (especially subwoofers), but it's a labor of love and you usually end up spending 3x of your initial estimated budget and time and noticeable bald spots from pulling your hair out. It makes a bit more sense if you already own amps and DSP and woodworking tools etc.

At OP's level of expertise, he should buy the nicest Powered PA tops he can (Yamaha, QSC, EV), stands and a couple of these, a used DriveRack PA2, a used random higher power PA amp, and a DIY a Keystone Subwoofer over the weekend with his friends. You can have literally elementary knowledge to use the PA2, the auto eq works quite well. And that rig will blow anything else you can find out of the water in terms of fidelity for the ~$4500 budget presented, DXS18/ES18P, etc if he doesn't want to DIY

Or, If he can stretch the budget to $5300 then you are in full DZR315+DXS18
 

sarumbear

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
7,604
Likes
7,299
Location
UK
I settled on a class AB crown XLI 2500

And so far I have 2 bookshelves I was using from an old 6cd changer system. They're pretty decent.

But I'm looking for a few diamonds in the rough.

Cost is an object, but also it isn't.

Let's give it $2000-2500 for the speakers

And $2000 for the sub

Maximum 15" drivers

And maximum 18" sub

But size isn't a requirement to be maxed out, because it's for parties that aren't gigantic

I play a lot of techno on my DJ gear, and house music with, let's face it, some not so well polished kicks.

So here are my goals:

Passive is best, I want to be able to upgrade my gear, I hate active speakers with a passion.

-make it sound as close to the big festivals as possible, in quality

The highs are high, the mids are clear, the bass is free of crappy distortion

Now I understand these won't be Void or Funktion One, but I am a firm believer that a decent passive speaker paired with the right upstream gear can sound good with a class AB amp

So here are my questions:
What signal processor should feed the amp to the speakers that will sound as close to professional sound engineering as possible?

Powered sub? That's the only thing id be okay with having onboard power, but I'd rather go passive... I'm okay with buying more crown amps, even XLS

What speakers?
What sub?

I'm also willing to take any information on what brands and models the professionals use at the big stage setups as well, it doesn't have to be in my budget but a list of top notch gear would work

Currently I have an EV 12" sub that's powered, it's decent but it won't go too loud before it starts to sound like it's resonating itself to death. Could be that it's underpowered... Because of that I'm willing to get rid of it and upgrade it

Any information would help, any pro sound engineers - would love to pick your brain and learn more about the trade- from one (mechanical) engineer to another


Thank you!


PS: I'm but into home HiFi, but struggling to pick up information from the internet on what is good with PA gear, it's just tough to learn about. I have a couple of very solid dacs including the Topping D90, Gustard R26, and a few lower prices ones- but what should come between the TRAKTOR and the dac and the amps all the way to which speakers- I don't really know. Willing to hunt down even used gear- would love to learn of any hidden gems if they even exist but my hopes are low... Good stuff costs money as we know.
Get these and you are sorted. I bought them after reading @amirm ’s review and I am very happy. My other half is an international DJ (semi retired now) and four of these create a club in our barn. Other halves knows best!

Here is the wife evidence. Half-way through the testing my wife came into the garage. I expected an complaint about the sound level. What transpired was an impromptu dance session to what I was playing then, the famous Steely Dan's My Cousin Dupree:
 

kipman725

Active Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2020
Messages
255
Likes
223
Please let me know how you are getting a Biamp Tesira, 8x1000w of amps, all the cabling (remember you need to convert at least 10 Phoenix block connectors to XLR), a rack, power distribution, a measurement mic, and a laptop to setup and tune for $1500.
you are kind of adding in a load of extra stuff there I was talking about just the DSP and amps. In terms of amps we are using the 'd' version of these that are slightly cheaper and have analog gain knobs rather than the digital gain controls: https://www.gisenaudio.com/professional-power-amplifier-class-d-digital-amplifier-2100wx4 (D21x4) we also have some of the 1U lower power models we use for monitor racks. We don't use any LG clone amps, all the amps we have purchased meet their power spec, the Admark amps I haven't used but there are 3rd party measurments showing they meet spec.

Here is one of our racks from a medium size UK festival, 12 channels running from a QSC basis (cinema processor). The LG is genuine . I wouldn't recomend Basis processors anymore as they are getting so old that they are becoming unreliable.
1686175064432.png


In terms of delay through the install processors I haven't had any issues, the one measurment I found was only 0.88mS ADC->DAC: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...s/loudspeaker-management-systems.36104/page-3 The older generation Biamp Nexia processors I have found to be a bit noisy so wouldn't recomend them as you have to be very careful with the gain structure to get good results.

For cables and connectors the cheapest source is scrapped cabling from AV hire places, often you can get things like scrapped XLR snakes and drum looms for practicaly nothing and harvest high quality Neutrix connectors. It's worth buying a decent cable tester. For speaker cable you can use the rubberised cable intended for mobile power distribution H07RNF, this is available with 4 conductors and in 2.5mm^2 and 4mm^2 and is flexible but much cheaper than speaker cable.

But yes I agree with you that this is a very expensive way of building a system if you don't actualy enjoy the process of building it! for the syntripps the originals didn't use any CNC parts so this is not esential for good performance.
 

ocinn

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2022
Messages
362
Likes
887
Location
Los Angeles, CA
you are kind of adding in a load of extra stuff there I was talking about just the DSP and amps.
Oh, haha, I did that intentionally to highlight the difference in equipment needed to get a system running vs. prosumer level-actives. Your rack of DSP and amps isn't very useful if you have no pheonix-XLRs, no power distribution, and no laptop/mic to measure and program it.

In terms of delay through the install processors I haven't had any issues
IIRC the PM60/90 has pretty complex linear-phase filter requirements for best performance, and using FIR would introduce latency from the taps. So Linea/Marani with their proprietary DSP is a solution to cut down on latency.

for the syntripps the originals didn't use any CNC parts so this is not esential for good performance.
CNC phase plug and throat adapter greatly improved the performance, as they do on almost all MEH designs. Yes, you CAN build them without, but it was a revelation in that thread when people started 3d printing/machining them and measuring the improvements.

I think you and I basically agree on most things. If OP has a $4500 budget, minimal technical speaker/system design knowledge, and no personal connections to sweep up good used PA gear deals, the clear answer to me is to go off-the-shelf active.
 

dacarny1

New Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2023
Messages
1
Likes
0
Hi, Live sound guy here.



This is an oxymoron. Festivals are 99% active these days. L'Acoustics, D&B, and Meyer (the big 3 manufacturers for festival-level sound) have all been fully active for years. There are a handful of L'A and D&B products that are passive (stage monitors, small 8" installation fill speakers), where the huge plethora of benefits active would present make no sense to waste amplifier channels.

For the consumer/small rental house, it pretty much goes internally powered active speakers and then you upgrade to externally powered active speakers (bi-amp, with digital crossovers and processing). This is done for a million reasons, and with OEM processing presets applied they leave passive systems behind in the dust, as well as being far safer (remote monitoring, comp/lim for every box) and easier to integrate.

That being said, the only passive speaker on the market right now that is even remotely worth considering are the options from Danley Sound Labs. The issue is that you will struggle to find used ones in your price range, meanwhile, there are absolutely fantastic active options from Yamaha, QSC, JBL, Martin, etc...

Another huge benefit of going into a single active ecosystem, especially at the consumer end of the live PA world, is that many can be networked together to a router and you can have full control of EQ, crossovers, limiters, compression from a mobile device or laptop. Depending on the ecosystem, there is no need to invest in a processor and all the individual cabling to do so. In some ecosystems, you can just send one box your Left+Right and it will distribute all the audio and data over a single ethernet runt o the other boxes.

But yes, Danley or JBL CBT series are some of the only passive speakers that can compete. There are *some* DIY designs that can be made with a passive crossover but even if you to go the Diyaudio forum and look at the technically competent designs (PM90, Syntripp, all the synergy horn clones, B&C 215DCX, etc, etc...), you will notice that everyone builds them as actives with high-performance DSP boxes (many times multiple!).

You hate active because you like to upgrade, however, investing in everything you'd need to make a passive system work well would cost orders of magnitude more than any resale-losses you'd get from selling active boxes.
Live sound Tech here with many years touring.

Not sure which festivals you are going to that are 99%active. Yes, Meyer sound utilize self powered speakers but if you look into the systems used for these large shows and tours L’Accoustics and D&B line arrays are all passively powered rigs. A quick look at their websites would provide you with this info.
 

ocinn

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2022
Messages
362
Likes
887
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Live sound Tech here with many years touring.

Not sure which festivals you are going to that are 99%active. Yes, Meyer sound utilize self powered speakers but if you look into the systems used for these large shows and tours L’Accoustics and D&B line arrays are all passively powered rigs. A quick look at their websites would provide you with this info.
No they are not. Maybe in 1996 but not todays.

Every single L’Acoustics array Box except for kiva and A series is active (not used at festivals). Every single D&B SL array box is active.

I think you are confusing the terms active and powered.

1E995E48-0C39-4405-AA0C-ED1569A16AD8.jpeg
 

Rja4000

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
2,658
Likes
4,194
Location
Liège, Belgium
Pretty much all big speaker systems nowadays use DSP crossovers, which means active filtering, but, in most cases, with racked (external) amplifiers.
 

ThatSoundsGood

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 12, 2022
Messages
142
Likes
101
D&B and L-Acoustics have external amplifiers and are driven with active crossovers. This is the confusion here. Active speakers have amplifiers in them. L-Acoustics and D&B are not active speakers, but they do have active crossovers.
 

ThatSoundsGood

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 12, 2022
Messages
142
Likes
101
No they are not. Maybe in 1996 but not todays.

Every single L’Acoustics array Box except for kiva and A series is active (not used at festivals). Every single D&B SL array box is active.

I think you are confusing the terms active and powered.

View attachment 294220
These speakers do not have amplifiers in them. The crossover is active, but the speakers are not. I am currently on tour with an L-acoustics PA system and D&B wedges. None of these speakers have amplifiers in them. The D&B wedges that I use (M4) can be driven with active crossover or passive crossover settings so many D&B speakers have a variety of active and passive crossovers. The new SL stuff is all driven with array processing but all of that is from external amplifiers so technically it's not an active speaker but it is an active crossover.
 

Timcognito

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 28, 2021
Messages
3,167
Likes
11,923
Location
NorCal
No expert, but may build a DML system (or something similar) for my home and have been doing some research. So maybe think about these DML options.
 

ocinn

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2022
Messages
362
Likes
887
Location
Los Angeles, CA
These speakers do not have amplifiers in them. The crossover is active, but the speakers are not. I am currently on tour with an L-acoustics PA system and D&B wedges. None of these speakers have amplifiers in them. The D&B wedges that I use (M4) can be driven with active crossover or passive crossover settings so many D&B speakers have a variety of active and passive crossovers. The new SL stuff is all driven with array processing but all of that is from external amplifiers so technically it's not an active speaker but it is an active crossover.
Wording Semantics. An speaker with the crossover done in DSP powered by an external amp rack is an “active” speaker in my book, and the manufactures’ book

EA7DA3BD-6DDD-460A-A03B-10A46DB4F4DA.jpeg


Passive means speaker-level physical crossover network. A speaker, like a K2, that you cannot plug into an un-processed full range amplifier, is not a passive speaker.
 

Rja4000

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
2,658
Likes
4,194
Location
Liège, Belgium
Wording Semantics. An speaker with the crossover done in DSP powered by an external amp rack is an “active” speaker in my book, and the manufactures’ book. Passive means speaker-level physical crossover network.
In my book as well. But OK.
A speaker, like a K2, that you cannot plug into an un-processed full range amplifier, is not a passive speaker.
And smaller systems, like Nexo PS15 R2, may be configured for either passive mode (with speaker-internal crossover and external amp) or active mode (for use with external DSP crossover and amp(s)).
 

Rja4000

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
2,658
Likes
4,194
Location
Liège, Belgium
I'd like to highlight that this post is the 35th on a thread where the original question is so vague that it's impossible to answer.

And that the OP didn't post any answer after original post to clarify. After more than one month.
 

ocinn

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2022
Messages
362
Likes
887
Location
Los Angeles, CA
In my book as well. But OK
Ok wait so we agree?
And smaller systems, like Nexo PS15 R2, may be configured for either passive mode (with speaker-internal crossover and external amp) or active mode (for use with external DSP crossover and amp(s)).
Yes, but I wouldn’t consider nexo “festival grade” at least here in the us. The riders I receive are exclusively D&B, L’A, Meyer and sometimes Clair/Adamson/JBL (rarely).

I’m actually doing a show as we speak with the newer VTX A series and it’s definitely “less bad” than the old V series.
 

ThatSoundsGood

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 12, 2022
Messages
142
Likes
101
Wording Semantics. An speaker with the crossover done in DSP powered by an external amp rack is an “active” speaker in my book, and the manufactures’ book

View attachment 294314

Passive means speaker-level physical crossover network. A speaker, like a K2, that you cannot plug into an un-processed full range amplifier, is not a passive speaker.
Semantics, sure. But what would you call the D&B line arrays then? The mid and high are a passive crossover network. I've always considered active speakers to be powered, but obviously the crossover network can also be active or passive. I also see what you're highlighting that they're advertising their speakers as but it seems to me that they call them "active" because of the crossover network. Again, the terms passive and active can refer to the nature of the crossover or whether the amplifier is in the box or out of the box. But as you say (and I agree) this is just semantics. Pretty much all Pro Audio stuff has active crossovers (except a few manufacturers that use a partial passive crossover network with the mid and highs).
 

ocinn

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2022
Messages
362
Likes
887
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Semantics, sure. But what would you call the D&B line arrays then? The mid and high are a passive crossover network. I've always considered active speakers to be powered, but obviously the crossover network can also be active or passive. I also see what you're highlighting that they're advertising their speakers as but it seems to me that they call them "active" because of the crossover network. Again, the terms passive and active can refer to the nature of the crossover or whether the amplifier is in the box or out of the box. But as you say (and I agree) this is just semantics. Pretty much all Pro Audio stuff has active crossovers (except a few manufacturers that use a partial passive crossover network with the mid and highs).
agree. I think main issue here is just a terminology/wording misunderstanding.

Either way OPs suggestion of classic 2 way passive speakers + amp, cannot compete with basic modern active DSP consumer boxes, outside of danley, who still makes killer passive boxes (out of budget anyways)
 

ThatSoundsGood

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 12, 2022
Messages
142
Likes
101
agree. I think main issue here is just a terminology/wording misunderstanding.

Either way OPs suggestion of classic 2 way passive speakers + amp, cannot compete with basic modern active DSP consumer boxes, outside of danley, who still makes killer passive boxes (out of budget anyways)
Absolutely. The D&B stuff is still pretty amazing with the partial passive crossover, especially considering what the SL series stuff does with the phase canceling. I use the M4 wedges in passive and they absolutely rip. That being said, there is nothing out there in the Pro Audio world that can compete without DSP.
 
Top Bottom